By David Gold

World University_Canoe_Sprint_Championship_opening_ceremony_August_30August 30 - The World University Canoe Sprint Championships, a key test event for next summer's Universiade, have got underway in Kazan where the event will be held next July.

The Championships got underway following an Opening Ceremony (pictured) attended by a number of key Russian politicians and sports officials.

They included Tatarstan's Minister of Youth affairs, Sports and Tourism Rafis Burganov, Kazan 2013 executive director Vladimir Leonov, Russian Olympic Committee secretary general Marat Bariev, Russian Student Sport Union President and FISU vice-president Oleg Matsytsin and FISU Executive Committee member Marian Dymalski, from Poland.

Bariev spoke of his delight that canoe sprint, which was included in the Universiade for the first time in 1987, would be featuring at Kazan 2013.

"The University Championship takes place in Kazan soon after the end of the London 2012 Olympics where the tournament was among the most dramatic events," he said.

"I would like to say a special thank you to the Governments of the Russian Federation and Republic of Tatarstan, as well as to the Russian Student Sports Union whose initiatives helped to include this sport in the Kazan 2013 programme.

"I hope that we will see most of you here next year, at the 2013 Summer Universiade canoe sprint tournament."

Leonov officially opened the Championships and said: "Today we enjoy being here, at this unique venue, and tomorrow the World University Championship kicks off here.

Marat Bariev_Rafis_Burganov_Oleg_Matsytsin_Marian_Dymalski__Vladimir_Leonov_August_30Marat Bariev, Rafis Burganov, Oleg Matsytsin, Marian Dymalski and Vladimir Leonov at the Opening Ceremony of the World University Canoe Sprint Championships

"It's a challenge for us, a test that we are ready to pass.

"With all my heart I wish the athletes who arrived here excellent starts and huge success!"

More than 150 athletes from countries as far away as Brazil and Australia are in Kazan for the competition, which will feature 24 medal events.

Matystin praised the organisation of the event.

"Athletes participating in the 2012 FISU World University Championships in the coming two weeks in Kazan will definitely be content with the test event's management," he said.

Athletes at_Kazan_World_University_Canoe_Sprint_Championships_August_30_International athletes at the Opening Ceremony of the World University Canoe Sprint Championships

"The sports venues that are used during the test events ahead of the 2013 Summer Universiade meet all standards for hosting international competitions.

"Any event of this scale is seen as a whole by us: catering, accommodation, logistics.

"Here, in Kazan, everything is organised at the highest professional level."

The championships are the first of three test events taking place in Kazan shortly, including the World University Shooting Championships between September 4 and 9 and the Rowing Championships held between September 7 and 9.

More than 13,500 athletes from 170 nations are due to compete at the Kazan 2013 Universiade.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
August 2012: Kazan opens multilingual call centre ahead of 2013 Universiade
August 2012: FISU arrives in Kazan for inspection ahead of 2013 Universiade
August 2012: David Gold - As Russia prepares for a glamourous decade of sport, Kazan 2013 dreams of reaching Olympic proportions
August 2012: Kazan has "big responsibility" when it hosts 2013 Universiade, says director
July 2012: Kazan 2013 Torch sets sails from France for global Relay journey