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23:17 | May 02 | 2012

Becoming a Champion: the road is open!

The Flame of the 5th International Games “Children of Asia” has been lit.

On March 28 in the Kisilyakh Mountains, where winds always blow and clouds are in the sky, the Flame of the 5th International Games “Children of Asia” was lit. That day the weather was excellent, however: the sun was shining, the wind had gone down, and the white carpet of snow was gleaming in various colors. “A good sign!” – local foretellers concluded 100 days before the beginning of the Games.

Having flown by helicopter over the round-top mountains with the Kisilyakh outliers rising above the peaks, we landed near a “family”. The Mistress of Mountain stepped out to welcome the guests. She gave the flint and steel to a boy, who handed them to an algyschytu spell caster, and a bright merry flame of the Games flared up. Then a First “Children of Asia” Games Champion and Olympic medalist Georgy Balakshin used the bonfire to light up a lamp and a torch.
The Verkhoyanie region celebrated this event with gusto, in a very colorful way. We descended to the village of Elges at the foot of Kisilyakh, where we were welcomed with a theatrical show featuring numerous children’s ensembles; the kids were seemingly not cold at all, although it was -30° outside. At the same time young sportsmen were easily jumping over sledges as part of an improvised competition they had organized; with this, they pretty much impressed Vice-President of the Olympic Council of Asia Gofur-Arslonbek Rakhimov, who had just returned from Dubai, where the shade temperature was +40°.
Marat Bariev, First Deputy Chairman of the RF Duma Committee on Physical Culture, Sport and Youth and General Secretary of the Russian Olympic Committee, admired the way we were preserving our customs and culture: “This is my first visit to Yakutia. The impressions are very positive; I dived into everyday life of the Yakut people with pleasure”. He also emphasized how important it was to prepare well for the upcoming Games: “We will do everything we can for the Children of Asia to become a high quality event, bearing in mind that representatives of more than 30 Asian countries and about 1000 young sportsmen will come to Russia. The Olympic Charter requires that sports activities among children be promoted and developed. It was back in 1996 that Chairman of the Russian Olympic Committee Vitaly Smirnov first proposed to the IOC that the “Children of Asia” Games be held under auspices of the International Olympic Committee. Today, the Games are the only regularly held sports event in Russia that is sponsored by IOC and organized in cooperation with the Olympic Council of Asia. And, in addition, it presents an opportunity to “take stock” of our human reserves in sports. For example, Georgy Balakshin’s victory in Yakutsk in 1996 marked the beginning of his road to winning the Olympic medal in Peking in 2008”.

Gofur-Arslonbek Rakhimov, Vice-President of the Olympic Council of Asia and the AIBA International Boxing Association:
- This is a big event. The “Children of Asia” Games initiated a process that has led to holding Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010 and the ones to be held soon in China. One can say without exaggeration that the Games give start to future Olympic medalists. Georgy Balakshin is a good example, and so are the young sportsmen from Mongolia, judoists, wrestlers from other Asian countries that did remarkably well at 2004 Athens and 2008 Peking Olympics.
I used to be a sportsman, myself. I was born in Uzbekistan that had a strong school of boxing. Participated in a number of Jackson tournaments, became a USSR Merited Master of Sports, competed in the weight categories of 71 kg and 75 kg. For the last 20 years I have been working in AIBA administrative bodies, since 1995 – in the Executive Committee, for 15 years – as a Vice-President, since 2008 I have been heading the Asian Boxing Confederation. Recently we brought boxing uniform and gave it to the Children’s and Youth Sports School director and a boxing coach Andrei Ammosov in Bagatai. By the way, an Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) will be held in Moscow on April 9 – 16. The Assembly will bring together representatives of more than 200 countries. I hope your President Egor Borisov will speak at the Assembly and share your Republic’s experience on how to survive, work and achieve such powerful results in development of sports in your wonderful and harsh land.