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01 March 2013 | in Multisports, Summer Universiade

Universiade Fever grips Khabarovsk as it welcomes Torch Relay

KHABAROVSK/KAZAN - Yesterday, February 28th at 11am local time, the Keepers of the 2013 Summer Universiade Flame - Mikhail Slepenchuk, Dmitry Silivonchik, Vladimir Zhemer, Eduard Tokar, who are all students of Far Eastern Federal University - arrived by train in Khabarovsk and delivered the miner's lantern with the Flame in the second city on the route of the Universiade Torch Relay. Crowds of students and local citizens, as well as representatives of partner companies and Torchbearers gathered at the railway station to greet the Flame.

"We are a little bit sad to give the Flame a send off but we are honorably handing it over to students of Khabarovsk. We are confident that they will keep it with as much care as we did," said Vladimir Zhemer, handing the lantern with the Universiade Flame to citizens of Khabarovsk. As a sidenote, the Flame Keepers are fully responsible for the integrity of the Flame which is contained in the miner's lantern, taking turns on the night shift to ensure the Universiade Flame is safely transported. 

With 'Gaudemus Igitur', the official FISU anthem, being played in the background, the Torchbearers kicked off the Relay in Lenin Square, one of the main squares of the city where Khabarovsk's major institutions of higher education are located. The solemn Torch Relay kick-off ceremony was attended by Sergey Khokhlov, Chairman of the Khabarovsk Territory Legislative Duma; Andrey Bazilevsky, Deputy Chairman of the Khabarovsk Territory Government, who also contributed to the Relay by being one of its Torchbearers; Leyla Fazleeva, Deputy Head of Kazan's Executive Committee; Svetlana Shevchenko, Deputy Mayor of Khabarovsk; representatives of the city's sports community, young people of the Khabarovsk Territory, local citizens. 

Dmitry Ivanenko, a famous weightlifter of Khabarovsk, had the honor of being the first Torchbearer in Khabarovsk. Having run his leg, he handed the Torch to Sergey Golitsyn, Rector of Far Eastern State Academy of Physical Culture, which will serve as the Flame's temporary home during its stay in Khabarovsk. 

"This is an incredible feeling!" the Rector commented on his experience of carrying the Universiade Torch after completing his leg. "I'm grateful to the Universiade Torch Relay organisers for entrusting us with the honor to keep the Flame in our academy. I invite all local citizens and tourists coming to our city to visit us. Everyone will be able to touch the Torch and take a picture."

The Torch Relay's route in Khabarovsk will run through the most popular landmarks of the city, including N.N.Muravyov-Amursky street named after the legendary Governor-General of Eastern Siberia; the Khabarovsk Dormition Cathedral, fully reconstructed after being demolished in 1930; and other places of interest. The privilege to carry the Universiade Flame was granted to famous and respected people of the city. Among them were Maksim Shtepenko, a Pro Draka MMA world and national champion and kickboxing champion of Siberia and the Far East; Nadezhda Krikhtenko, Natalia Petrova and Vladimir Ananyev, student activists; Sofia Epifanova, a journalist at the Guberniya Information and Television Agency and other inspirational citizens of Khabarovsk. "It's a very emotional and honorable moment for me!" Sofia said to her journalist colleagues as soon as the Universiade Flame was handed to her. 

Among the Torchbearers also were representatives of the 2013 Summer Universiade Torch Relay partners. "I'm so proud to have the honor of carrying the Universiade Flame on behalf of Forward, which is the official uniform and apparel provider for the Torchbearers and the organisers," said Alexandra Fridman, Commercial Director of Forward's representative office in the Far East. Pavel Kizim, a representative of SOGAZ, another partner of the Torch Relay, added: "The organisers have set high standards for the Universiade Torch Relay and the most important thing is that it became a milestone event for all citizens of Khabarovsk." "I'm a former professional boxer. It's great that boxing is part of the Summer Universiade sports programme. I sincerely wish victory to members of Team Russia," said Evgeny Shumkov, a representative of Hyundai Motor CIS.

The last Torchbearer was Ekaterina Koneva, a triple jump champion of the 26th Summer Universiade 2011 in Shenzhen. It was her torch that lit the City Cauldron. "In my dream tonight I saw myself carrying the Flame of the Kazan Summer Universiade," Ekaterina said to a Rossiya 24 reporter who interviewed her. 

The Torch Relay leg through Khabarovsk will finish in the square in front of Far Eastern State Academy of Physical Culture, where the Universiade Flame will be kept until 26 March, and will travel to Yakutsk later on.

More photos here.

(Source: Kazan 2013 Media Dept.)