Alina Zagitova as icing of Solidarity Games

But instead of the expected cake we have so far got a flop

The first leg of the Solidarity Games named World ended in Kazan. Three months are left to the second stage, which will be a diptych of diving and swimming competitions. Realnoe Vremya’s sports staff reflects on how just the third leg of the Solidarity Games could be the only sports tournament.

Comparison cannot be avoided

It became possible to attract sports guests from Kazakhstan and Serbia to synchronised swimmers’ competition, which immediately raised a question: why these teams didn’t have swimmers. Olympic champion Dmitry Balandin from Kazakhstan, the best swimmers of Serbia would seriously raise the level of the swimmers’ competition, but the synchronised swimmers from these teams, sadly, didn’t. Though Kazakhstan has a promising mixed duet Eduard Kim and Zhaklin Yakimova. But only young Eduard competed in Kazan and represented Dynamo-Kazakhstan sports community, not the national team of his country. Perhaps, warm relations between Dynamo sports communities from Tatarstan and Kazakhstan influenced, but then there is a question for the competition organisers: why don’t we see such relations between our federation and the federation of the neighbouring country?

Clearly, neither the British Commonwealth Games nor Islamic Solidarity Games have such an event as synchronised (artistic swimming), and even the upcoming European Championship couldn’t be an obstacle for the guests. Leader of the Serbian synchronised swimming team Jelena Kontic and her teammate Nevena Dmitrijevic finished 15th and 16th places in duets at last year’s European Championship. What competition can we talk about? Thanks to Belarus, it has good groups with its leader Vasilina Khandoshka who didn’t allow the general level of the Solidarity Games fall deeper than, let’s say, competitions in Northern Caucasus Federal District. (For understanding, there is no such competition.)

Objectively speaking, there are few questions for synchronised swimming on the sports programme of the Solidarity Games. Here Russian needs almost nobody to demonstrate the top competition level, though of course, China would come in handy. But tensions with Taiwan have intensified there. China didn’t send teams to the Chess Olympics in India either, rumour has it that next tightening COVID-19-related restrictions is the reason. Though it did compete at the FINA World Championships in Budapest and World Athletic Championship in Eugene, US. Frankly speaking, we won’t even pretend to understand what China goes by when making decisions.

next synchronised swimming competition at the Solidarity Games is scheduled for December, the Svetlana Romashina Cup which is gaining popularity. Last year, there was Serbia, Uzbekistan, Donetsk People’s Republic and Crimea among 15 teams. It is necessary to increase the quality and quantity of teams, including because separate competitions in Kazan were held now with one competitor or two teams.

Alina Zagitova: sport in the panel of World Congress of Tatars and on the podium for award ceremony

The problem of several competitions held at the same time seriously foiled not only the Solidarity Games. Team Australia had a colossal advantage at the same British Commonwealth Games in swimming. For two reasons. Firstly, the host team — team Great Britain — is just preparing for the European Championships especially after the kind of bad luck at the WC. Secondly, the Games didn’t have relay teams from Great Britain, since everybody competed separately, England, Wales, Scotland.

The Solidarity Games, which didn’t have the main sports dish — high competition — for different reasons, generously played trump cards regarding the involvement of sports starts of the past in the programme. An armour piercing shell was used on the penultimate day of the tournament by using Olympic champion in figure skating Alina Zagitova in the award ceremony. Before the ceremony, Zagitova talked with journalists, and here it is noteworthy that the interest of our mass media in the popularisation of sport is too low.

The Olympic champion was showered with questions about her recent experience in boozing, the possible experience in diving and synchronised swimming. Firstly, Zagitova could win a medal if she got into the water, thus lowering the sports level of the Solidarity Games to zero. Secondly, it is time to understand that it is our people, and it is not as primitive as journalists’ numerous questions. Citing Zagitova we chose the most informative answers.

About Kazan where as a 14-year-old junior she won a senior competition for the first time in 2016:

“I was at the international Grand Prix first, only then at the Russian Cup. I just did m job, I didn’t think about anything else. I have been in one of the Kazan ice rinks now where I gave my charity masterclass, it is where I competed in 2016. Therefore the competition became a milestone for me. It is was a preparation for the next big competitions.”

About the Tatar language:

“To be honest, I don’t speak Tatar very well. I understand everything, if my parents hide something from me, they start speaking Tatar. While I tell them: ‘Don’t do this! I know everything, I understand everything. Don’t tell me it this way.’ So I do understand but don’t speak very well. Did my dad tell you that I talked with my granny in Tatar? These were simple phrases, common ones everybody knows. I cannot maintain a big conversation.”

About Kazan

“Kazan is a special city for me. Here my dad worked as a coach at Irbis’s second team. I quite often come here. I will be a guest of the Congress of the Tatars, which is important for me. I will repeat that Kazan is a special city for me.”

Zagitova mixed business with pleasure — she awarded winners, medallists of competitions, gave a masterclass and attended the World Congress of the Tatars. We have questions for its participants too. Perhaps, the participants and delegates can help with expanding links, including in sport.

Kazan is a special city for me. Here my dad worked as a coach at Irbis’s second team. I quite often come here

Hope for Salnikov and Sautin Cups

The diving event of the Solidarity Games gathered eight countries. For understanding, the Asian Games opened on these days too, with 21 national teams, 13 of them are representing neighbouring countries. Vladivostok managed to do what even the organisers of the Chess Olympics in India didn’t — to combine the participation of the athletes of this country with Pakistan. Yes, there are more sports, 19. But there were more agreements on the countries competing in the games. Another question is who they are competing with. A statement of sports ministers from 33 countries demanding to suspend the membership of Russia and Belarus in international federations signed by 25 in 27 EEC (only Bulgaria, unexpectedly, and Hungary refused). Those who have been opponents of Russia since the USSR are against — Great Britain, Norway, Canada and the USA, South Korea and Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Consequently, it is necessary to write the EU off like mistake in our past and cooperate with Hungary (a powerful country in swimming) and attract new allies. If now RSA’s strongest swimmers competed at the British Commonwealth Games, particularly Pieter Coetze, Chad le Clos, Lara van Niekerk were among the medallists, in winter they “had to be” brought to Kazan, to the Vladimir Salnikov Cup. Moreover, now RSA became Russia’s reliable partner in developing rugby fifteen where the prowess of the country’s championship notably increased because the leading clubs focus on foreigners from Georgia, RSA. Current tournaments are remembered for a big number of stars in competitions, but this is just a spice for the main dish — competitive tournaments fans haven’t failed to see.

Jaudat Abdullin

The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.