Head of the Republic of Mordovia Nikolay Merkushkin: "I will support everyone"



- How important is it to organize the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Saransk?

- Mordovia has been the host city of a number of National Race Walking Championships and it was the host city of the IAAF Grand Prix Race Walking Final. The IAAF World Race Walking Cup 2012 is not only the event of the highest level but also a very powerful publicity tool of Race Walking as an athletics event. There will be lots of spectators and of course many of them are young, including young athletes and Race Walkers who train in the Republican Race walking Centre for the Olympic training. For these young athletes, it is very special to see athletes struggling for the medals in real life at the world level.

- Mordovia’s Race Walking culture can boast of more than 50 years of successful history.

- The history of the development of this event is connected to the silver medal of Evgeniy Maskinskov at the 1956 Olympic Games. He worked as a coach afterwards and since then, Race Walking in Mordovia is at a high level. Everyone remembers 2004 Athens Olympics when Denis Nizhegorodov nearly fainting at the finish line, still managed to win the silver medal in 50km. The Beijing Olympic Games of 2008 brought two gold medals – Olga Kaniskina and Valeriy Borchin who became Olympic Champions; Denis Nizhegorodov won a bronze medal. We also admired fantastic performances of our Race Walkers at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin and in Daegu in 2011.

- Can you say that Race Walk is the № 1 sport in Mordovia?

- We develop different kinds of sports in the Republic. Our athletes win medals at various World and European events. But the first big success at the World level came from Mordovian athletes in Race Walk. Our Republican Race Walking Centre for the Olympic training has sub-centres in all towns and villages of the Republic. It is because of the well-developed training system that we can see new talented athletes “appearing” at the World level events every year. I am sure that citizens of the Republic will try to come and see the competitions to support the athletes. The competition course is in the city centre so, it is very convenient for the spectators to come and see the event.

- Who will you support at the competitions?

- I will support all the competitors. The experienced athletes should use all their mastership, young athletes should try to “write their names” in the history of Race Walking. In the near future, we will create the best conditions for the training of other athletics events: soon, we will open a big indoor sports complex in Saransk; this complex includes indoor track and football pitch. It complex will become the training base for the National athletics team for long-distance runners. I hope that the guests of the IAAF World Race Walking Cup will enjoy their stay in Saransk and that all the participants will feel the support of the spectators! 

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