August 30 - The World University Canoe Sprint Championships, a key test event for next summer's Universiade, have got underway in Kazan where the event will be held next July.
The Championships got underway following an Opening Ceremony (pictured) attended by a number of key Russian politicians and sports officials.
They included Tatarstan's Minister of Youth affairs, Sports and Tourism Rafis Burganov, Kazan 2013 executive director Vladimir Leonov, Russian Olympic Committee secretary general Marat Bariev, Russian Student Sport Union President and FISU vice-president Oleg Matsytsin and FISU Executive Committee member Marian Dymalski, from Poland.
Bariev spoke of his delight that canoe sprint, which was included in the Universiade for the first time in 1987, would be featuring at Kazan 2013.
"The University Championship takes place in Kazan soon after the end of the London 2012 Olympics where the tournament was among the most dramatic events," he said.
"I would like to say a special thank you to the Governments of the Russian Federation and Republic of Tatarstan, as well as to the Russian Student Sports Union whose initiatives helped to include this sport in the Kazan 2013 programme.
"I hope that we will see most of you here next year, at the 2013 Summer Universiade canoe sprint tournament."
Leonov officially opened the Championships and said: "Today we enjoy being here, at this unique venue, and tomorrow the World University Championship kicks off here.
"It's a challenge for us, a test that we are ready to pass.
"With all my heart I wish the athletes who arrived here excellent starts and huge success!"
More than 150 athletes from countries as far away as Brazil and Australia are in Kazan for the competition, which will feature 24 medal events.
Matystin praised the organisation of the event.
"Athletes participating in the 2012 FISU World University Championships in the coming two weeks in Kazan will definitely be content with the test event's management," he said.
"The sports venues that are used during the test events ahead of the 2013 Summer Universiade meet all standards for hosting international competitions.
"Any event of this scale is seen as a whole by us: catering, accommodation, logistics.
"Here, in Kazan, everything is organised at the highest professional level."
The championships are the first of three test events taking place in Kazan shortly, including the World University Shooting Championships between September 4 and 9 and the Rowing Championships held between September 7 and 9.
More than 13,500 athletes from 170 nations are due to compete at the Kazan 2013 Universiade.
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