By Duncan Mackay

Sochi_2014_launches_countdown_clock_May_14_2011May 14 - Sochi 2014 today celebrated 1,000 days until the start of the Winter Olympics and Paralympcs when it unveiled its mountain-shaped Omega Countdown Clock in front of the main railway station, putting it at the centre of a series of celebrations held across Russia.

On one side, the clock counts down steadily to the beginning of the Olympic Winter Games, which are due to open on February 7, 214; while the reverse side of the Countdown Clock marks the time to the opening of the Paralympics, due to begin on March 7, 2014.

Another important milestone was that Sochi 2014 Volunteer Centres·were officially launched across Russia.

Last year 26 higher education institutions won a contest·to become volunteer centres in the run-up to the Games

Gala concerts in Moscow and Sochi provided a grand finale to the 1,000 Days to the Games festivities.

The Moscow concert set·a Russian record·for the overall number of people·performing the composition·the·"Bogatyrskaya Sila"·song.

The culmination of this massive flash-mob was marked by volunteers unfurling·a gigantic map of Russia on which Moscow and Sochi were shown bound together.

Earlier, the city of Sochi and the whole of Russia celebrated the milestone with a series of events and festivities under the banner of "The Marathon of 1000 Good Deeds".

The main themes of the day were: the environment, healthy living, education, and culture.

Among the events held were "1000 Olympic Lessons" were held at schools in Moscow, Krasnodar, Khanty-Mansiysk and Novocherkassk.

A sports festival called "A 1000-Metre Dash Towards the Olympic Games" held in Moscow, St Petersburg, Omsk, Volgograd, Krasnodar and Novorossiysk, where volunteers instigated a huge flash mob called "The Olympic Warm-Up", which saw thousands of people taking part, including in Volgograd Aleksey Petrov, the 1996 Olympic weightlifting champion. 

A "Friendship between People" Festival was held in Moscow, Kazan and Tomsk, to reflect the cultural diversity among Russia's nationalities while volunteers at Kazan State Technical University organised an immense hot-pot banquet with 1,000 national meals for the public to sample.

In Tomsk the national anthem of Russia was performed by 1,000 musicians from three combined orchestras.

In Rsnodar, Moscow, and Ufa a number of social initiatives for the elderly were luanched under the title of "1000 Smiles".

Environmental events and "green initiatives" were also held in Vladivostok, Tver, Sochi, Pyatigorsk, and Arkhangelsk where numerous trees were planted alongside the Olympic avenues, and flower beds were arranged in the figure of 1,000.

The students from the Pyatigorsk State Linguistic University climbed to the top of Mount Mashuk, which stands at a height of 1,000 metres, and cleared its slopes of litter, having began their ascent of the mountain from five different starting-points, one for each of the Olympic rings.

The event also saw the Sochi 2014 Flag planted on the very summit of Mount Mashuk.

"Sochi 2014's 1,000 days to go celebrations have·reached·every corner of Russia," said Dmitry Chernyshenko, the President and chief executive of Sochi 2014. 

"The whole nation is uniting to welcome the first ever Olympic Winter Games to Russia in 2014.

"This has been possible due to the active support of our partners, as we combined our efforts to organise the 1,000 days to go celebrations in the best possible way.

"Now we only have 1,000 days to make a change, 1 ,000 days for new ideas and hard work in order to hold the most innovative Olympic Winter Games in 2014."

The nationwide celebrations impressed Jean-Claude Killy, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission for Sochi 2014.

"It was great to see the whole of Russia getting involved in Sochi 2014's 1,000 days to go celebrations," he said.

"The excitement and engagement that we witnessed across the country was exceptional and will no doubt continue to increase with the nationwide opening of Sochi's volunteer centres.

"In addition, the unveiling of the stunning Countdown Clock serves to remind us all that this great country will soon be playing host to the world and its finest winter athletes.

"With 1,000 days to go, the clock is now really ticking and I'm confident that the Olympians of 2014 will receive a fantastic welcome when they arrive in Sochi in just a few years time."

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