27th Summer Universiade in Kazan,

July 6-17 2013

Kazan cyclists end their round-the-world trip beside Universiade countdown clock

Three days before the opening of the 27th Summer Universiade, Kazan cyclists Alen Khairullin and Pavel Grachev returned to the capital city of Tatarstan, after they had travelled around the world.

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As was reported earlier, these two Kazan residents took upon themselves a hard task, in order to draw attention to a historical figure, a Kazan cyclist named Onesim Pankratov, who completed his trip around the world 100 years ago – the first in history. An equally important goal was the popularization of the 27th Summer Universiade and promoting cycling.

Starting off on November 3, 2012, the two cyclists in eight months travelled 21,000 kilometres, visiting 13 countries. They crossed Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, USA, China and Kazakhstan. In their route they included the cities that hosted the Universiade in previous years – Moscow (1973), Warsaw (1924), Turin (1959/70), Beijing (2001), and Harbin (2009).

The around the world trip ended in Kazan. To the loud applause from residents and volunteers, the cyclists crossed the finish line stretched around the Universiade countdown clock in the heart of the capital of Tatarstan – on Bauman Street.

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The marathon cyclists were first greeted by the Minister of Youth, Sports and Tourism, Rafis Burganov: “We are very pleased that these young men were able to repeat the feat of our countryman Onesim Pankratov, they brought attention to our city, our culture, and met a lot of people along the way. We are pleased that today these young men are here healthy and well. I think that their achievement, the significance of it should not be underestimated, as it will influence dozens, hundreds of boys and girls to become involved in cycling.”

The athletes themselves thanked Kazan residents for their warm welcome. “You have supported not only us, but also our republic, our Kazan, it took us eight months to return, and now we are not ashamed to look into your faces, we achieved a great deed – and now the whole world knows our Kazan,” the cyclist Pavel Grachev shared his feelings. Pavel has 25 years of experience in cycling, and was a bronze medallist at Russian Cycling Championships.

Alen Khairullin (by the way, he has 10 years of cycling experience) admitted that the travellers faced many difficulties along the way, but now, when all the difficulties are behind them, the athletes are happy to be back in their hometown:

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“We had a difficult route – we were covered with snow, drenched by rain, we crossed the Alps and many other mountain ranges, but we never lost our determination to go all the way to the end. Our Kazan is beautiful! Eight months ago when we were leaving, there were large construction projects here, and now – this is a very different city. Foreigners, when they saw our presentation, said ‘Wow’. – I want to invite you all to the Universiade and to wish our Russian team great success. Yes We Can.”

The brave marathoners were given flowers and ribbons in honour of their around the world trip.

Pavel and Alen, while circling the globe on bicycles, also told people they met along the way about the upcoming Universiade 2013. “I sincerely hope that we have contributed to the popularization of this event,” said Alen.

The travellers have promised to give to the newly opened Universiade Museum their winter cycling uniforms, emblazed with the symbol of the Games, in which they rode through the cold countries. The museum will also get some equipment and souvenirs from various cities of the world.

We should note that the footage shot during the journey, will later be used to create a documentary film.

Media Department of Kazan 2013 Executive Directorate