Everyone was invited
International competitions have returned to Kazan — it was with this message that the Friendship Games were promoted in the capital of Tatarstan. Since the Universiade-2013, this city has become accustomed to hosting some kind of World Cup or, at worst, the European Championship at least once a month. For water sports, sure. Former head of FINA Julio Magilone visited Tatarstan, perhaps more often than at home, and already understood the varieties of Tatar tea and the composition of echpochmak as well as local ones.
In order to hold international tournaments, the Republic even created the Directorate of Sports Projects – it oversees all major competitions. The pandemic was the first blow to the international competitions put on stream. And when the world recovered from anti-epidemic measures, it was time for sanctions.
Initially, in Kazan, they decided, following the example of the experience of the pandemic, to concentrate on domestic competitions. But they failed to captivate the spoiled local spectators. Then the idea arose to ensure the international nature of the starts. The initiative was supported by the Ministry of Sports and the WFTU – Russian athletes needed competitive practice in the face of suspension from international competitions. This is how the Friendship Games were born, which take place in parallel with the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest. Officially, representatives of 16 states became their participants.
Among the delegations that arrived in Kazan are Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, Venezuela, Vietnam, Serbia, Syria, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Ecuador, South Africa. Swimmers from South Africa always perform successfully at international competitions. But all the strong ones were sent to the World Championships in Budapest. The same factor affected the level of representation and other delegations. So, against the backdrop of the strongest composition of the Russian national team, the foreigners did not shine with the results and looked for the most part as extras.
“We have invited all the countries, here someone has already responded, someone has not,” Vladimir Salnikov, president of the WFTU, explained the situation to Izvestia. — Those who came got international experience, a charge of emotions. They will tell at home how these competitions were held, motivate others to come to the next competitions.
Salnikov praised Kazan for organizing the tournament and quite deservedly – Tatarstan treats competitions of any level with due attention. Another thing is that the organizing committee is unable to ensure a high level of competition. And this is important for spectators (by the way, there are quite a lot of them), and especially for athletes. The leader of our swimming team, Kliment Kolesnikov, honestly admitted that he was a little bored at the Friendship Games.
“These competitions do not oblige me to swim in world seconds,” he explained to journalists his failures in Kazan and noted that almost all participants swam a couple of seconds worse than their personal records.
Waiting for world records
All, but not all. Ilya Borodin, 19, set a new Russian record in the 400m medley in Kazan. Although he would have been happy with a greater level of competition.
“I personally don’t always have enough competition,” the athlete admitted to Izvestia. – If I competed at the World Championships, I could swim better. But what is what is. We’re just getting ready, hoping for the best. Someday everything will end and we will be able to compete with the best foreign athletes.
Both Kolesnikov and Borodin said that they were following the World Championships in Budapest with interest, watching the broadcasts. But the president of the WFTU, Vladimir Salnikov, studies only dry results and does not see a big gap between international and domestic competitions. For Kolesnikov, Vladimir Valeryevich jokingly offered to let a goldfish into the pool – maybe at least she would help Clement find himself.
– There is such a format of comic starts in horse racing, when they let a bunny in front, and all the horses already know where and why to run. Maybe we need to come up with some kind of goldfish nearby or a dolphin for Clement, so that he can see live where he is, the world record, ”Salnikov continued, either jokingly or seriously.
The WFTU President commented on the question of whether the International Swimming Federation (FINA) recognizes the results of the Kazan starts. According to Salnikov, there are no obstacles for this – Russia is still a member of FINA, and doping control is carried out under the strict supervision of RUSADA officers.
The first stage of the Friendship Games will last until August 3. In the coming days, in the capital of Tatarstan, it will be possible to see starts in diving – July 26-29, and synchronized swimming – from July 30 to August 2).