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Team sets sights on Olympiad

Beautiful and stylish, cheerful and brimming with hope, the national team met almost in full at the Palace of Independence for farewell event before heading to Rio for Olympic Games
In a warm and friendly atmosphere, the President greeted athletes and coaches to wish them well at the coming Games, saying, “We all await your victories. Our team is an organic alloy of youth and experience. For some of you, it is your first Olympic Games, while many have already performed in the main sporting event, held every four years. Our state has done everything possible to allow you to train and perform well at such competitions. Olympic medals have always been held in high regard but competitive rivalry has, of late, exacerbated. Unsportsmanlike methods of pressure have been placed upon certain athletes and upon whole countries. Scandal, loud denunciation and revision of results, even from the distant past, no longer surprise us. I’m sure that all of you see and understand and are concerned. In Rio, conditions won’t be easy: maybe, very hard. However, I’m sure that you’ll cope with this enormous pressure, with worthy results.”

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and national Olympic team: a commemorative photo

Athletes reacted with smiles and natural excitement, even the most courageous and skilled, on the threshold of the major event. The captain of our national team, Alexander Bogdanovich, attending his fourth Olympic Games, took the state banner in his hands and solemnly transferred it to our flag-holder, Olympic marksmanship champion, Sergey Martynov, who attends this, his fifth Games, as a coach.

Alexander Bogdanovich read the oath with all concentration, as if awaiting the shot of the starting pistol, to take him and his brother, Andrey, to victory, in their canoe. He stated, “On behalf of all athletes, I’d like to say thank you for our training conditions. I promise that each of us will do all we can to see the national flag of Belarus rise and our national anthem sound over Rio.”

All the athletes joined in the oath, after presenting Mr. Lukashenko with a small but symbolic gift: a set of badges showing various sports being represented by the team in Rio de Janeiro. May good luck be with us!

Olympic competitors remark:

Sergey Martynov, marksman and standard-bearer for the national team:

It is very honoured role. At the opening of the Olympic Games, I’ll lead our best athletes, and the whole world will see us... I’m not nervous but, of course, I feel responsibility.

Alexander Bogdanovich, rower and captain of the national team:

For me, as captain of the Olympic team, I feel great responsibility. I’ll pronounce the oath for the entire team, and I want all gathered here to be uplifted by these words, and to perform well in Rio. The essence of a captain’s role for a national team is to unite, inspire and share your own luck.

Arman-Marshall Silla, taekwondo athlete:

I go to the Olympic Games in fighting mood. I’d like to do my best, giving my highest result. The fact that I’m the first to represent our country in this discipline at the Olympic Games motivates me even more, inspiring me. My character is to fight.

Max Mirnyi, tennis player:

I urge our younger athletes to stay calm and collected. If you are nervous here, on this stage, think how much worse it will be. At the same time, I want to wish you strength of mind and determination, because records are shattered and grand feats achieved only when you show this characteristic.

By Sergey Kanashits
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