February 5 - Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova has hailed the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games as a "wonderful opportunity to return to her home town" as she unveiled the Samsung Galaxy studio here this morning.
Sharapova, a global brand ambassador for Samsung who is also fulfilling television commitments here, spent her childhood in the city before moving abroad to pursue her tennis commitments.
She admitted to being "so happy " when Sochi was awarded the Games seven years ago, because it would raise the profile of a location that everyone she had met overseas "could not even point out on a map".
Sharapova also admitted how, due to the vast construction work in those seven years,"it is quite surreal coming back now in comparison with when I grew up here", but also expressed delight all the work has now been completed.
"I was here a year ago visiting family and a lot was still not ready, and there were many questions, but now I have a huge smile that it has all come together", she said.
"This city is wonderful and unique and it is so rare to come somewhere where you can swim in the sea and ski in the high mountains on the same day.
"My first Olympic experience was in London where the whole nation came together in a way I had never seen in sport before, and I look forward to that happening again in Sochi".
In a similarly confident vein, Sharapova admitted there had been a lot of negative questions surrounding the Games, but insisted this is the case at most major events, and that all the concerns have been satisfactorily addressed.
Fresh from arriving in Sochi earlier this week, Sharapova was informally interviewed by the executive vice president of Samsung YH Lee, with her heritage and sporting success, as well as her work with the Olympic sponsor, all highlighted.
She particularly cited the usefulness of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 "Olympic edition" which will provide information, as well as exclusive interviews and trivia, throughout the Games.
"Although a lot of people like watching Winter sports they may not know all of the rules, so the Samsung Note will provide them with the information by which to do that", she said.
As well as Sharapova, the largest-ever international Samsung Galaxy Team has been unveiled for Sochi 2014 - encompassing 80 athletes from 20 countries - with the hope of inspiring a new generation of talent to pursue their sporting dreams.
This was all outlined in today's opening, with the studio here providing chances to communicate with athletes via the Note as well as learn about the illustrious history of Samsung's 16-year involvement in the Olympic Games.
This was something also highlighted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) managing director of television and marketing Timo Lumme, who gave an opening address to begin proceedings.
Lumme hailed the partnership with Samsang as something that "has always delighted and surprised us" and described the consistently "great wireless connection" as vital to ensuring that everything runs smoothly as well as enhancing people's enjoyment.
He added that In Sochi they "have once again produced world class cutting edge technology which has helped to create the most technologically advanced Games ever".
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