President of the National Badminton Federation of Russia (NBFR), Sergey Shakhray, and badminton players shared their expectations of the ongoing European Men’s and Women’s Team Badminton Championships in Kazan.
- The European Men’s and Women’s Team Badminton Championships are held in Russia for the first time, - said Sergey Shakhray. - Hence this tournament is an interesting and much-anticipated event for Kazan specifically and for Russia as a whole.
- Is Team Russia mentally prepared for the tournament?
- For Europe, it’s the last tournament of this level in the qualifying cycle. And since the competition is held on our home soil, it is of paramount importance for our athletes’ qualification for the Rio Olympic Games. However, the same can be said about other European teams.
- How many Russian badminton players are likely to play at the Olympic Games?
- We have confidence that our athletes will compete in four events at the Games. We have an issue only with the women’s doubles team because of Evgenia Kosetskaya’s illness. But there is still time left until May 5 and the required 3,800 points can be collected at other tournaments. But for that end we need to work hard and not to miss competitions.
- What are your medal expectations for the Rio Olympics?
- If Team Russia will have bronze at Rio 2016, just like it had at London 2012, I will be the happiest badminton federation president in the world. It will be a challenge but theoretically our boys and girls have enough skills to win. I keep encouraging them to believe in themselves and to fly higher than the shuttlecock. All they need is to get a competitive streak and to win. Everything is well within our range.
- It’s not the first time that Kazan hosts a major badminton tournament. Why was the Tatarstan capital entrusted with holding a European championship again?
- Kazan has the best infrastructure left after the Summer Universiade. Apart from that, there is this very positive attitude of the republican leadership. But even these two reasons couldn’t have been enough for hosting the European championships. The main reason is simple: Kazan has become the leading Russian region in terms of badminton development in schools and universities.
High expectations are placed on members of the Russian national team, Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov, who took gold in the men’s doubles at the Intersport European Championships in 2014, which became the first ever gold medal won by Russia’s men’s team at European championships.
- We feel perfect; we've worked hard at the training camp. We've geared up very well so we came to this tournament only with the most challenging tasks and we want to accomplish them. I think that our fans will help us to achieve our goal, - said Ivan Sozonov. – We want to show everything we are capable of at this tournament. The team is perfectly fit both mentally and physically. So we hope that Russian supporters will inspire us to win medals.
- All opponents are very strong, - said Vladimir Ivanov. – We’ve known them for a long time now as we’ve played against most of them more than once. The Danes, the defending European champions, have a strong team. Germany, England are first-class national teams; they have shown high results at various times. We are about to witness intense and interesting matches at this tournament.
Press Office of Directorate for Sports and Social Projects