The anniversary of Vitaliy Smirnov’s birth was celebrated in the Russian Olympic Committee

On Monday, February 16th, in the building of the Russian Olympic Committee 80th anniversary of  Vitaliy Smirnov’s birth was celebrated – Honorary President of the Russian Olympic Committee and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Many outstanding  athletes, Olympic champions of different years, heads of sports federations and Olympic veterans came to congratulate Vitaliy Smirnov.

It was impossible to find vacant seats in the Conference Hall that night. The emcees of the event  – Alexey Vasilyev and Olga Bogoslovskaya – opened the solemn event accompanied by the composer and pianist Levon Oganezov.

The ceremony honoring Vitaliy Smirnov started with a silent movie with a symbolic name “Smirnov-80”. A pictorial review of his life was presented in this movie. In particular the filmmakers drew a parallel between the year of Smirnov’s birth (1935) and the opening of the first line of the Moscow Subway. Another interesting coincidence was that Smirnov first became the head of the Olympic delegation in the year when Belka and Strelka returned from space.

Igor Levitin, Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation started a parade of congratulations. He read a greeting from Vladimir Putin.

“Dear Mr.Smirnov! I congratulate you on your 80th anniversary. You have made a great contribution to the development of high performance sports, did a lot to promote physical culture and healthy lifestyle in our country. Your active and effective work in the National and the International Olympic Committees and your devotion to high ideals of Olympism earned you respect and prestige. I wish you good health well-being and success”, – Russian President said in his congratulation note. From himself Igor Levitin added: “8:0 – the game is not over yet!”

Russia’s Deputy Sports Minister Yuri Nagornykh read a greeting from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. He stressed that Vitaliy Smirnov sets a truly great example of serving the Sport”.

Many kind words and words of gratitude were said to the hero of the day during the Gala Evening. Alexander Zhukov, President of the ROC, congratulated Vitaliy Smirnov amongst others. Right now he is in Almaty heading the IOC Evaluation Commission. Greetings from the ROC President were read by the General Director Vladimir Sengleev.

During a relaxed conversation with the emcees of the solemn event Vitaliy Smirnov has told about his love of hunting, remembered some amusing stories, associated with the Olympic Games of different years and he also mentioned about another anniversary – 40 years since he met his wife.

“Irina is a complicated person and she always criticizes my English because she is a graduate of the leading linguistic institute of the country – Maurice Thorez Moscow State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages – said Vitaliy Smirnov. We met in Innsbruck in 1976 during dinner with Giulio Onesti, President of the worldwide association of national Olympic committees. The dinner was organized by Ignatiy Novikov and Irina was an interpreter. Mr. Novikov, as well as many people who don’t know foreign languages, has never thought about translation problems and during the conversation he literally spoke in aphorisms such as “look below the surface”, “one cannot square the circle”. He ended with the phrase “A cobbler should stick to his last”. I looked at Irina, she was almost crying. I asked her in English: “What is wrong?” And she answered: “I don’t know what’s the English for “cricket” and “perch” (and she laughed). That’s how we first met.

Domisolka creative team joined others in congratulating Vitaliy Smirnov. Members of the Domisolka creative team presented a bright medley of sporting songs. After the young performers a group of Olympic champions of the previous years headed by Galina Gorokhova went up on the stage. They sang a few songs in honor of the hero of the event, including a remake of the song “Komanda molodosti nashey” that was greeted with a storm of applause of those gathered.

To mark the end of the official part of the evening in his concluding speech Vitaliy Smirnov said: “I promise that I will serve the Russian Olympic Committee for the benefit of our sport until my heart stops beating”.

The solemn event ended with a festive banquet.