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Special Olympics Floorball Competitions kick off in Kazan

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An exhibition Unified match took place as part of the Opening Ceremony.

The All-Russian National Special Olympics Floorball and Unified Floorball Competitions have commenced in the Kazan Badminton Center. These are the test events in the lead-up to the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2022. A total of over 130 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 9 regions of the Russian Federation have gathered in Kazan.

The participants had first trainings on May 3, and next day – official competitions and spectacular Opening Ceremony featuring the Minister of Sport of the Republic of Tatarstan Vladimir Leonov and Director General of Special Olympics Russia Egor Lebedev.

“Hospitable Badminton Center transformed into a Floorball Center these days. Deep gratitude to our partners – Special Olympics Russia and its President Olga Slutsker. This is the qualification tournament in the run-up to the long-awaited event – Special Olympics World Winter Games 2022 that Russia is staging for the first time. We would like to create all the necessary conditions and atmosphere for the participants and spectators. I am certain that next tournament will bring together even more participants. I wish everyone a good mood and let the strongest win!” Vladimir Leonov wished good luck at the Opening Ceremony.

A winged dragon from fairy tales, Games mascot Zilant was another bright character at the Opening Ceremony. Being an athletes’ protector, he cheers up for them during the competitions and helps overcome themselves. After a stylized national performance by the Action Man Crew and NCT cheerleading team, there was held an exhibition unified match with the Special Olympics athletes, famous Tatarstan sports figures and celebrities. The match was organized jointly with Coca-Cola in Russia, which is the general partner of the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2022. Tatarstan Deputy Minister of Sport Ildar Sadriev, Director General of the ANO “Directorate for Sports and Social Projects” Maksim Denisov, the forwards of the Kazan Ak Bars hockey club Aleksandr Burmistrov and Ivan Emets, and many others played in the match.

The players got divided into 2 teams. Red Zilant had on the team Sergey Khakimov, Mikhail Vedyornikov, Maksim Sychkov, Niyaz Karimov, Andrey Alekseev, Georgy Dynkov, Gleb Stroykin, Vyacheslav Turin, Zoya Nikolaeva, Ilseyar Khakimova, Maksim Denisov, Rishat Ibatullin, Rafis Gabdrakhmanov, Robert Garipov, and Igor Petukhov. Aleksandr Burmistrov and Ivan Emets beefed up the White Bars that also featured Aleksey Burganov, Andrey Malakhov, Ilya Muslimov, Sergey Semyonov, Rifkat Suleymanov, Adel Vanukhin, Vyacheslav Glukhov, Boris Nefyodov, Alisa Yakimova, Vasilisa Sabirova, Ildar Sadriev, Egor Lebedev, and Azat Khayrullin.

Red Zilant opened the lead 2:0, but White Bars showed some muscle and gave scored balls back to the rival having showing a very emotional game.

“We are pleased to attend the event like this and to get to know floorball, talk to the guys. We had a very good day. The game is dynamic and complicated. We sweated all the way through. When we were losing, decided to attack, but it was not easy. Special Olympics movement is cool and really demanded,” stated Aleksandr Burmistov who shined in the game with one goal.

“I am so happy that had a chance to play with such guys. Thank you for this!” noted the Special Olympics Athlete Adel Vanyukhin.

Special Olympics World Winter Games will take place in Kazan on January 22-28, 2022. Games sports program will comprise competitions in seven sports: alpine skiing, snowboarding, floorball, cross country skiing, figure skating, short track speed skating, and snowshoeing. The event will bring together over 2,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and Unified Partners from 102 countries.

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