October 13 - Vladimir Leonov, director general of the 2013 Universiade in Kazan, believes the aquatics competition at his World University Games next year will be the perfect test event for the 2015 FINA World Championships that will take place in the Russian city two years' later.
Kazan is establishing itself as one of Russia's biggest sporting cities because as well as the Universiade, the biggest sporting event in the world for university athletes, it has secured the 2015 FINA World Championships and a number of matches during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
But Leonov is keen to highlight the Aquatics Palace (pictured top) that will be given a test run during the Universiade before hosting the world's best swimmer in 2015.
"The Universiade swimming tournament will be held at the Aquatics Palace," Leonov explained.
"It's a state-of-the-art venue, the construction of which largely contributed to Kazan's winning of the 2015 FINA World Championships.
"The Aquatics Palace is being constructed in full conformity with FINA's requirements.
"We will use the Universiade swimming event to test operations ahead of the World Aquatics Championships so that we will be all set and perfectly ready to host them."
Aside from swimming events, the multisport Universiade will also stage water polo and synchronised swimming.
Leonov feels the rapid rate of development in the Russian city will allow participants in various aquatics disciplines to enjoy a positive legacy after the Universiade and then beyond the FINA World Championships two years later.
"Kazan is the sports capital of Russia and it gained its unofficial title in many respects thanks to winning the bid to host the 2013 Summer Universiade and the construction activities that have unfolded," he said.
"If there was only one large swimming pool before Kazan embarked on the preparations for the Games, today sports complexes with swimming pools are built across the entire city.
"It's important for us to make these venues accessible to people; children and students play sports there, children and youth swimming lessons are regularly held.
"Aquatics is becoming more and more popular among citizens and in many ways it's a positive impact of our work.
"We think that after being staged at a new venue and in a new host city, the FINA World Championships will promote aquatic sports throughout the world, especially since it boasts one of largest television audiences in the world."
As a precursor to the 2015 FINA World Championships, the 2012 FINA Convention will take place in Moscow, just a one-hour flight from Kazan, from October 29 to November 1.
The future for the Russian city in the international sporting arena looks positive and Leonov expressed his confidence that "mega sporting events" such as the FINA World Championships will help to lift the profile of the Russian city to unprecedented heights.
"We still have a lot to do, but we know that we are on the right track," he said.
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