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Meeting with members of Russia’s national student teams

August 26, 2011, Sochi

Dmitry Medvedev visited the Southern Federal Sports Training Centre, where national teams in the various summer and winter sports train for competition. After looking over the Centre, the President met with members of Russia’s national university students’ team.

The XXVI World Summer Universiade ended on August 23 in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. Russia’s team took second place in the overall ranking with 132 medals: 42 gold, 45 silver, and 45 bronze.

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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you on your outstanding performance at the Universiade that took place in China. Everyone knows about your achievements now, knows that you performed very well and came second in the overall team ranking.

To be honest, I barely managed to keep up with signing the congratulations I was sending off after each outstanding result, because there were just so many of them. But I can say too that it was a task that made me very happy indeed. It’s always a joy to win, but congratulating is also a pleasant job. Forty-two gold medals, 45 silver, and 45 bronze – this is an excellent result. Our Chinese friends and partners did even better, but they were on their home ground. It is not so much that their population is greater, but playing on your home soil always makes a difference.

All of you are still very young, but have all proven yourselves already as athletes, and your achievements prove one thing, in my view, namely, that the crisis period in our country’s sports life is, if not over, then at least coming to an end. Our country’s sport has exceptional potential because you are the up and coming generation of athletes who will take the relay from those competing today, and you yourselves are already taking part in professional competition too. This is all laying a good foundation for the future. This is all the more important for us because the next Universiade will take place in 2013 in Kazan, and we are working hard right now getting everything ready. In Shenzhen you demonstrated your best qualities, not just your excellent training, but also your team spirit and ability to support each other when needed, and you competed hard against serious rivals. I will not mention everyone by name, though I want to say that you all performed wonderfully, but I will just name a few of those who particularly stand out.

“We want to see sports flourishing not just in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi, but around the entire country. We see that the potential is there. Today, we are meeting here at the Southern Federal Sports Training Centre. Everything makes a good impression. We should have more such centres around the country.”

There is Yevgenia Kanayeva, for example, who won four gold medals, our cyclists, Artur Yershov and Sergei Shilov, our track and field athletes Andrei Krivov and Olga Topilskaya, fencer Kamilla Gafurzyanova, and yachtsmen Vladimir Chaus and Denis Gribanov who won two gold medals each. Finally, our gymnast Alyona Polyan won one gold and three bronze medals. In short, you all deserve congratulations!

Those are just a few of the names, for the list is very long. One other good piece of news is that athletes from 37 of the 57 Russian regions taking part in the Games came home with medals. This shows that sports development is indeed picking up around the country. We want to see sports flourishing not just in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi, but around the entire country. This result shows that the potential is there, and most important, that investment in sport has begun. For the regional governors this is no longer a secondary problem that it was; something that would give them headaches when they’d get the order from above to do something and they’d complain that they had plenty of other social issues to tackle first. Today, sports development has become a new fashion, and to be honest, it makes me very happy when I visit regions and the governors always show me how sports centres and sports fields have been built and opened, and I can see that they are just doing it all themselves now, it is not a mere formality for them, and this is a good thing.

I want to sincerely congratulate your trainers and mentors too. Good medical follow-up which I hope was good indeed, also contributed to your success. Today, we are meeting here at the Centre [the Southern Federal Sports Training Centre], which I have just toured, and everything makes a good impression. We should have more such centres around the country.

Friends, you have shown that you can win. This is very important in any person’s life, because sports careers always come to an end sooner or later, after all, but the desire and opportunity to win are essential things throughout the whole of life, and all of you have ahead of you what I am sure will be long and happy lives in sports and in our wonderful country.

I congratulate you from all my heart and hope that you will continue to achieve such outstanding results.

August 26, 2011, Sochi