Sochi 2014 today underlined its commitment to equality in sport at the second Equal Chances Sport Festival at the Dynamo Palace of Sports in Krylatskoye. The festival was organised by the "Edinaya Strana" (United Country) Foundation, which was established by Russian Paralympians, and aims to support people with a disability participating in sport.
More than 300 children and teenagers took part in the Equal Chances Sport Festival. These aspiring athletes were able to watch displays from world-class Paralympians, take part in competitions themselves and also take part in master classes run by famous Paralympians.
Guests of honour at the festival included: Vladimir Lukin, President of the Russian Paralympic Committee and Russian Federation Commissioner for Human Rights; Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee; Svetlana Zhurova, Olimpic champion; Mikhail Terentiev, Paralympic Champion; Mikhail Stepanyantz, Head of Moscow Sport Committee; Sergey Shilov, six-time Paralympic Champion, Ambassador of “Sochi 2014”; Irina Gromova, Chief Trainer of Paralympic Russian Cross-сountry Skiing and Biathlon Teams; Alexander Popov, four-time Olympic Champion, IOC Member, Olga Bogoslovskaya, World Champion, Olympic silver medallist, well-known sport commentator.
The festival opened with presentations by Russian Paralympic athletes in fencing, wheelchair dance, athletics, biathlon and bocce. This was followed by an Equal Chances Relay, a wheelchair race in which actors, political figures and athletes took part on an equal footing with the disabled athletes.
One of the participants in the relay, Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, said: "The Paralympic Games are an opportunity to draw attention to people with disabilities and to ensure that they have equal rights and quality of life. In Sochi we are creating a model of the town of the future, where all people will be able to access every possible opportunity."
The festival also included a photo exhibition entitled "Win by overcoming your difficulties!" This celebrates the achievements of the Russian Paralympic Team at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games. Russian Paralympic athletes also held master classes about Paralympic sports for children.
Mikhail Terentiev, noted: "The history of Paralympic sport in Russia, which has already seen hundreds of excellent victories by our Paralympic athletes, has demonstrated its ability to allow people with a disability to realise their dreams. At the festival we wish to give children, regardless of their background and health, the chance to become friends. We hope that this festival will be their first into a long and successful career in sport."