Kazan 2015: Though injured, Minister Leonov swims his 50m free in Kazan


Tatarstan’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Vladimir Leonov came on the hard way. The rocky one. Actually, he went through something similar what Japan’s star swimmer Kosuke Hagino experienced a couple of months ago.

Mr. Leonov biked in the countryside, around Kazan and had a bad fall. He broke his lower arm and injured his legs – like Hagino, who were unable to compete in Kazan – but still, on Wednesday, when swimmers of heat 42 (age group: 35-39) in the 50m free were called at the FINA World Masters Championships, he marched from the last call room to the pool deck.

He set his goggles, his cap, the starting block on Lane 6, took his marks, then – go! Though it was inevitable that he is off his peak form – he wore a bandage on his right arm – he covered the distance in 28.85 seconds, trying to be on full speed. Once out of the pool, the 38 year-old Minister might find it harder to walk back to the locker room than swimming a pool length, but as a former water polo player, Mr. Leonov has surely got used to bearing pain.

Soon it was discovered that Mixed Zone could have an important role even at a Masters event as a handful of media representatives rounded him for interviews. Once he finished with the locals, was keen to switch to English to share his Masters experience with the FINA website.

“Though I have these injuries, I didn’t want to withdraw” Mr. Leonov said. “I promised to take part and I stuck to this plan as this is a pretty good way to set an example. It’s about doing sport, promoting healthy lifestyle which more and more people do in Kazan. Swimming is one of the best sports you can practice, we have plenty of facilities around and we hope that thanks to these great FINA events we will have more and more young and old coming to the pools.”

Minister Leonov in Kazan ©FINA Communication

The Masters are still on, but the ‘big championships’ are over so I asked Mr. Leonov for a brief assessment of the previous fortnight.

“I think we can be proud of the success of the FINA World Championships here in Kazan. I’ve got only positive feedbacks from the athletes, from the coaches, officials, the FINA leaders and ultimately from the fans. This event has proved again what this country, our beautiful Russia is capable of. We have the resources, we have the facilities, we have the abilities to organise the biggest events in any sports. Russia, Tatarstan and Kazan showed that we could do anything and when we do it, we do it on the highest level.”