Four-time Olympic champion, world record holder, President of the Russian Swimming Federation (RSF), Vladimir Salnikov, shared his impressions of the FINA World Championships and explained why he does not take part in the Masters competitions.
– Please tell us about your role as a Kazan 2015 Ambassador.
– I take part in different meetings with young athletes, fans and Masters athletes. Obviously, the Championships drew quite a limelight. Most importantly, a lot of people now want to start swimming. I think the Championships changed most people’s vision of Russia, Kazan and the atmosphere reigning here is something unbelievable because the audience here is very welcoming and supports not only Team Russia, but also those who achieved high results and showed high-quality performance. Sometimes not a winner, but a person who showed his/her character by competing hard but losing in the end is considered to be the best athlete.
Once we had a meeting with a Masters athlete. He admitted that he has been collecting newspaper clippings of my sports career, dreamed of attending the World Championships and was lucky enough to have been presented with tickets to all the competitions by FINA. Such meetings are always touching.
It was a fantastic delivery of the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan. It is an opinion of hundreds of thousands of visitors. And I hope that as a result thousands of kids and teenagers will take up swimming and as a consequence we will see talented home-grown swimmers on the podium.
– What was the most remarkable thing about the Russian national team’s performance at the World Championships?
– New world junior records have been set. Our team is quite well-knit now. There is not enough space on the podium for everyone but we still won some medals so it’s a good sign. It’s been great experience for young athletes; I guess at the Olympic Games they are surely to show their best.
– The 16th FINA World Championships have come to an end whereas the Masters tournament has just kicked off. What about you? Why don’t you take part in it?
– I thought about participating and really was about to. In two days the World Cup will be held in Moscow, and the Russian national team’s athletes who participated here at the Kazan Arena Stadium will compete there and I cannot leave my team alone. I believe that participation in the Masters tournament will be one of my future goals that I hope to accomplish.
– In your opinion, what were the 16th FINA World Championships best remembered for?
– It was full of the brightest and positive emotions; Kazan seemed to be immersed into this warm and welcoming atmosphere. Once a coach from Switzerland, my very good friend, said: “I will dedicate the next twenty years of my life to telling everyone what nice, friendly and polite people live in Kazan!” The Championships are not only about medals, world records or time. The idea itself is deeper and more serious. First of all the Championships unite a vast majority of people who put a lot of effort in their work and prove that sport blurs all boundaries. Fans are simply great; they deserve nothing but respect. I’d like to thank them for the care and support they gave to me. I’ve never considered myself a celebrity but I was really surprised when people asked me to give an autograph to them and to have a picture taken with me. I was really pleased as it was some kind of tribute to my career. It brings me joy to think that people remember the days when we were winning medals.
Press Office of Organising Committee for 16th FINA World Championships
Foto R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya
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