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26 Nov 2019

Lukashenko awards Belarus’ kayak and canoe team

Lukashenko awards Belarus’ kayak and canoe team

MINSK, 26 November (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko has presented state awards to athletes and coaches of the Belarusian kayak and canoe team. The solemn ceremony took place in the Palace of Independence in Minsk on 26 November, BelTA has learned.

At the beginning of the ceremony the head of state noted that it became a good tradition to meet in the Palace of Independence to celebrate people who make Belarus proud and who wow the world.

Among them is the national kayak and canoe team. Aleksandr Lukashenko called it the most steadily performing and successful national team of the decade. The president said that this sport is truly Belarusian. “It is inextricably incorporated into a centuries-old culture and way of life of Belarus, a land of a thousand rivers and lakes,” he said.

The president noted that fans got used to victories of the Belarusian kayak and canoe team at biggest international events. “The team brings home gold from every competition, including the Olympic Games. During the 2nd European Games in June I saw it with my own eyes. I closely followed the cut-throat competition at the Canoe Sprint World Championships in Szeged where you showed again that Belarusians are unrivaled today. After clinching 14 medals, including 6 gold, you won the team title leaving behind other leaders, including Germany, Hungary, China, Russia, and New Zealand. Such a level of performance will be enough at the forthcoming Olympics. I personally do not demand a bigger result from you, just repeat that success,” the president said.

The head of state extended his sincere gratitude to the athletes for the moments of overwhelming joy they gave to all sports fans. The president gave a special mention to Maryna Litvinchuk and Volha Khudzenka (K2 Women). “Our golden duo triumphed twice in Hungary,” the president said. The Belarusian head of state also thanked the entire team, because in such a sport good performance of team members can inspire for even greater victories, the president added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that paddling is a very difficult sport, especially for women. “There is no harder sport than that. Men are men, they should paddle. Therefore, my special thanks goes to ladies. Thank you very much!” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president recalled that the kayak and canoe team won five medals in Olympic sports at world championships. “All these achievements are a testimony to the strength of the national paddling school. Our young hopefuls win not only junior events, but also successfully advance to elite sport,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. However, he regretted that such results are rather an exception than a rule for Belarus. “When I ask sports officials about performance of Belarusian athletes, I see that we have good child and junior athletes, they win biathlon and ski events. But what about adult athletes? It seems like junior athletes get lost on their way to adult sport. Therefore, I am saying that you are rather an exception than a rule because junior paddlers get on par with adult athletes and start winning,” the head of state said.

“I really respect the way you, coaches, treat every athlete and work hard sparing no time, effort and energy. It is good that we have not forgotten the first coaches who taught basics and opened the doors to elite sport for fledgling athletes. That is what we should do. These awards and this solemn ceremony would be impossible without first coaches,” the Belarusian leader said. He thanked the athletes and coaches for their hard work, determination and outstanding results.

The national team will be put to a serious test soon – the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July. “You know very well that you will have to engage in a cut-throat and fierce fight in difficult climatic conditions. All the victories in Hungary will become a thing of the past unless you defend your victories in Japan. Once you have set your bar so high, you have to jump high, figuratively speaking. Your rivals are just as experienced, determined and hard working. I am convinced that you will be able to handle everything and will be ahead of your rivals at least by a split of a second (it will be enough). You have an army of fans who believe and hope that you will be at your best and will win. I wish you good health, well-being and many successes at the forthcoming events,” the president said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he would like to see the team again. “If you perform in the same way [at the Olympics], we should definitely celebrate it in a restaurant,” the president said.

Coach of the Gomel State Olympic Reserve School Mikhail Azemsha, senior coaches of the national team Nikolai Banko and Gennady Galitsky were awarded the Medal for Labor Merits in recognition of their many years of work, high professionalism, and huge personal contribution to the development of kayaking and canoeing, training of top-level athletes and great performance at the world and European championships and the 2nd European Games 2019. This medal was also presented to athletes-coaches of the national team Maryna Litvinchuk and Volha Khudzenka

The Order of the National Olympic Committee was bestowed upon Vladimir Shantarovich for his outstanding results and services to the Olympic movement, amateur and professional sport.

Athlete-coach of the national team Artsem Kozyr received the diploma on conferring him the title of the Merited Master of Sport of the Republic of Belarus.

Eight athletes received letters of commendation for their exceptional professionalism, great results at international competitions. Letters of commendation were also given to 15 members of the coaching staff for their services to physical education and sport, excellent results in training top-level athletes, professional excellence and substantial personal contribution to improving medical and pharmacological services to the national team.

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