Summer Universiade - Izhevsk basks in glow of Universiade flame

With just one month to go before the 2013 Summer Universiade opens in Kazan, the city of Izhevsk welcomed the World University Games flame.

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Summer Universiade  - Izhevsk basks in glow of Universiade flame
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Izhevsk welcomes the Summer Universiade flame (Source: Kazan 2013 Media Dept)

Izhevsk, the capital of the Udmurt Republic, became the 19th Russian city to receive the torch relay as the flame wends its way towards Kazan for the beginning of July.

As usual, the flame took in various educational institutions, city parks and tourist attractions on its way through Izhevsk, covering a total of 6.2 kilometres before the city cauldron was lit.

The task of carrying the Universiade torch through the city's streets and squares was given to top students and famous sports stars, including Nadezhda Pushpasheva, a participant in the Paralympic Games in Beijing and London, and a 20-times Russian champion and member of the Russian national table tennis team.

She was joined by the likes of Ivan Kuznetsov, a bronze medal winner at the World Championships and a member of Russia's national sledge hockey team; Vladislav Lekomtsev, the three-times world champion and member of Russia's cross-country skiing team; and volunteers representing youth public organisations and sponsors of the Summer Universiade.

"When I was running with the torch, I could sense what a big responsibility it was. I'm happy to have been part of an international event like this!" said Varvara Vasilieva, another of the torchbearers.

"I'm delighted that a Russian city is hosting the Universiade in 2013: after all, Kazan is such a beautiful and ancient city. During the relay I was thinking about how close-knit and patriotic we all are in Izhevsk, and about the unity of the Russian people as a whole. I'm proud that I live in Russia!"

The starting point for the relay in Izhevsk was the Integral Palace of Culture at Izhevsk State Technical University, where the first torch was lit during a grand ceremony. The honorary task of starting the relay was awarded to Professor Nikolai Soloviev, the author of numerous works about the history of sport in the Republic of Udmurtia.

The flame - the main symbol of the Summer Universiade - was well received by a crowd of students and locals as it travelled through Izhevsk, with Anatoly Suvorov taking over duties in the square near the Eternal Flame. Suvorov is a veteran of labour and sport and advocate of a healthy lifestyle, who had carried the Flag of Victory during the Relay of Peace on 9 May in Izhevsk.

The relay came to an end in the city's central square, where the cauldron was ignited, with honorary guests including President of Udmurtia Alexander Volkov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Udmurtia Nikolai Musalimov and the city's Mayor Izhevsk Alexander Ushakov.

"We are delighted that Izhevsk was chosen as one of the 30 cities which were given the honour of hosting the Universiade Torch Relay," Volkov said. "We are going to continue to develop university sports in the republic and build sports facilities, so that young people are able to get involved in sport in every part of Udmurtia. After all, sport is a guarantor of success, good health and longevity."

Ushakov said: "Today, by taking part in the torch relay, we are getting involved in the upcoming Universiade in Kazan. We are proud of our sports stars, have high hopes for them, and wish them every success at the World University Games in Kazan."

The flame will next visit Kirov, with the Games in Kazan scheduled to open on July 6.

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