Fair Play Prizes were awarded in Kazan

Awards Gala Night  was held after the Fair Play Congress Nobility and Achievements in Sports.  With unexpected frankness legendary Russian  rhythmic gymnastics coach Irina Viner-Usmanova spoke about difficult  ways in the struggle for victory in such a beautiful, but subjective sport. Famous football coach Valery Gazzaev by using  concrete examples disproved the common  belief that there was no place for fair play a big football. Direct descendant of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, his great grand-nephew Yvan de Navacelle de Coubertin presented unknown facts about the life of the founder of the Olympic Games. For example, 251 of 252 paintings from the family collection were sold, and the funds were spent to support Olympics suffering from a financial crisis. And this is also an act of Fair Play.

The famous German scientist Norbert Muller spoke about the Fair Play at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Rector of the Russian International Olympic University, Professor Lev Belousov incorporated significant  amendments   into     to the established opinion about who can assist in demonstration of sportsmanship. And as a Congress moderator, I was happy that in six hours of work noone left the Congress hall.

The next morning our legendary Olympic champions Maria Kiseleva, Vladimir Salnikov and Dmitry Sautin, together with their colleagues from Tatarstan headed by the fencer Alija Galyazova conducted Fair Play master classes for local children.

And the main gala event took place in the evening. Prizes were awarded to Fair Play Champions in various categories. But first, a special prize established by UNESCO and the International Fair Play Committee was awarded to First President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev, who did much for the development of sports and personally invited Fair Play Congress to Kazan. “Why this high award was given to me? – he asked. – And he answered his own question: For the successful completion of my marathon in power. They say that power is doping. However, if you are presenting me this award, it means that I have managed to do without doping. It’s important to be yourself  in sports and in power no matter what. Each athlete and citizen wants to succeed. But on their way to success it’s important to maintain nobility.”

Another special prize was awarded to President of the International Fencing Federation Alisher Usmanov.

Then I was given the honor to present a special prize to the members of  KamAZ team. In the last Dakar Rally 2013 the Tatarstan team were the only participants who stopped, risking their leadership, when he saw that the Chinese jeep was in trouble. It took them a full ten minutes to change the wheels on the Chinese truck. They could lose. But they coped and they surprised their colleagues because it’s not common among professionals. But this is common for us!

Most of all I was struck by a tiny lady with incurable Down syndrome. A friendly Italian Silvia Spadaccini coul not even leave the stage without help – she was afraid of getting lost. And she was happy when she won bronze in the running marathon for people affected by the same disease. But on the second distance she suddenly slowed down to let her friend take the third prize. When the coach asked her why she did that, she replied: “I really wanted the other girl to understand how it feels to get a real medal.” Yvan de Navacelle de Coubertin, who presented the diploma for an act of fair play to her, kissed her hand, knelt down and almost cried. And many of those present took out handkerchiefs to dry their eyes.

And the Fair Play Trophy in this category For an act of fair play  went to the Archer from Denmark Martin Damsbo. He explained his noble gesture to me: “I was fighting for bronze at the 2013 World Championships in Antalya. My rival has broken his bow. For 20 years I have been performing for the Danish team and I wanted so much becoma a prizewinner and  to go to Paris to take part in the final! But it would have been a shame not to help my rival. And I gave him my bow. But I sill won. And by miracle we both got into the World Cup finals.

Alexander Tyukavin member of the national bandy team, the captain of the Moscow Dynamo team received a Diploma in the same category. Twice in the matches of the Russian Bandy Super League he on purpose missed 12-meter penalties awarded by mistake. “You know what I was afraid of? – Alexander told me. – I was afraid that I will miss and the team and our fans will not understand. And I  was very happy that after my missed strokes my teammates clapped me on the shoulder and the fans gave me a standing ovation.”

A Diploma For a general attitude of sportsmanship throughout a sports career was received by the defender of Avangard Hockey Club (Omsk) holding hardest slapshot record in KHL Denis Kulyash. I can honestly say that when presenting Kulyash for the award, I did not realize that he was spending his hard-earned millions for  the construction of ice hockey rinks in distant villages of the region, for the purchase of the ice hockey equipment for boys and for other sporting needs. And he has been doing it not for a year or two, but for many years.

And, finally, about the Hana Dragojevic from Croatia became the winner in the category Prize for the youth. In my opinion, what she did was not just an act of fair play it was a heroic act.

A nine-year-old Croatian girl became the winner of all youth competitions. On 7 April, 2013 she was also one of the race leaders when suddenly she heard somebody screaming. In the sea, not far from the place where sailors competed, something strange happened. Her fellow racer’s boat capsized and he was unable to free himself. Without a moment of thought Dragojević changed her course, sailed up to him and jumped into the water to help him out. Hana saved Marko by righting his capsized sailing boat and disentangling him from the lines.

Interestingly, the judges did  not understand the situation and immediately disqualified Dragojevic. Why did she leave the distancewithout giving a signal? She had no time for that – she had to save a man! And now, Hana received her his first international award —  IOC President’s Trophy.