World pole vault record holder Sergey Bubka was a special guest at the launch of a new sports arena in Burgas, Bulgaria, and turned the first sod on the two-year building project.
International Olympic Committee member Bubka, who is also vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), took part in the ground-breaking ceremony along with the Mayor of Burgas Dimitir Nikolov and Bulgarian Athletics Federation President Dombromir Karamarinov.
"Bulgaria is well known over the world for its outstanding athletes," said Bubka, highlighting the likes of former Olympic champion and current women's high jump world record holder Stefka Kostadinova and Ivanka Khristova, winner of the women's shot put gold at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games.
"I'm delighted to become part of the launching of a new venue here in Burgas.
"It is obvious for me that Arena Burgas will help forward the development and promotion of athletics and other sports in the region.
Bubka, the 1988 Olympic pole vault gold medallist, added: "I hope to visit the venue very soon for a major International Championships.
"But above all I'm happy the venue [will] serve young athletes and amateurs of sport.
"I'm looking forward for the next generation of great champions saying proudly 'I've made my first steps in sport at the 'Arena Burgas'."
The 6,500 capacity venue will form the centrepiece of a proposed bid from Burgas for the European Indoor Athletics Championships in 2019.
The city is situated on the Black Sea coast and is the largest industrial and tourism port in Bulgaria.
After visiting the site, Bubka attended a reception at Burgas City Hall where he was presented with a special memorial statute of the city's patron, St Nicholas the Wonderworker.
"I'm really hopeful that your city will continue to train and bring along new sport talents," said Bubka, President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine.
"I would like to express my gratitude to the Bulgarian Athletics Federation, Local Government and every person who gave their support to this project for the sake of the sport of athletics."
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