The day before Sportsperson's Day, the children at Artek participated in a real sporting event: the Merry Sportsland relay races and demonstration performances of the International Festival of Ethnic Sports, one of the central events of the session, took place at the central stadium.
In his opening remarks, Artek Director Alexei Kasprzhak presented the book of the session – The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, in which reality and fiction are interlaced in a bizarre manner. The director emphasized the role of fantasy in human life: “Children know how to fantasize – it is a very important quality for a person, especially in today's and tomorrow's world. They know how to invent things, offering something new, absolutely impossible, unrealistic, something no one believes. I hope that each of you will have your little fantasy, a dream about your future, during this session, maybe while reading The Neverending Story – a dream of doing something that will make you happy, and others, the entire country, and the whole world.”
Nyakucha Laptander from the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area, a member of Camp Polevoi, was given the honor of raising the flag of the Russian Federation at the opening ceremony. Nyakucha is the champion of Russia in the northern multisport event, one of 600 young athletes participating in the International Festival of Ethnic Sports organized in Artek during this session. It includes games and martial arts from all over Russia, as well as from Holland, China, Japan, Germany, Italy and China. “This kind of diversity is important, because it exposes children to other cultures, including through trying new sports,” says General Secretary of the Union of Ethnic and Non-Olympic Sports of Russia Sergei Sanin, the director of the festival. “The young athletes here will regain their strength, make friends with their peers from other countries, and will also share their skills: we invite all Artek children to our open classes and workshops during the session.”
The festival participants who do Taekwondo, Wing Chun, Kobudo and other sports performed demonstrations during the ceremony. Then everyone got invited to a practice: Yury Smirnov, a master of ju-jitsu (St. Petersburg) and one of the experts of the festival, showed the children the basic techniques that can be learned without even leaving the stands – 3,500 children simultaneously repeated his smooth movements.
After this warm-up, the children cheered for their camps’ teams competing in the Merry Sportsland races more loudly than ever. The program included several kinds of relay races where you need not only to run fast, but also to be able to carefully hold a ball, crawl through a tunnel or even do somersaults several times in a row. The last trick was excellently performed by Alisa Kamardina from Togliatti, who got selected for the Artek session for her achievements in dancesport, among other things. “I really wanted to join the team of my camp, Lesnoi, hoping that my skills would be useful, and it happened,” Alisa said. “I expect a tremendous amount of emotions and incredible impressions from the session. I think it will be a really happy session!”
Alisa's teammate Maxim Ivanov from Novocheboksarsk came as part of a group from the Chuvashia Shaping Federation. “I successfully ran all the stages of the relay race; it was an opportunity to uphold the honor of my camp and prove myself. I'm happy to represent my sport, shaping, at the festival. We are rehearsing a special performance for the other children, which we want to present at the closing ceremony of the session.”
The Polevoi Camp team won bronze medals in Merry Sportsland; second place went to Camp Khrustalny; and the gold went to Yantarny – it was for them that the stadium roared in triumph and Artek flags fluttered that evening. And the children had another three weeks of new fantastic victories at Artek ahead of them.