Summer Universiade - Torch Relay arrives in Khabarovsk

The Summer Universiade flame has arrived in Khabarovsk, the second city on its long journey to Kazan, amid much fanfare.

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Summer Universiade  - Torch Relay arrives in Khabarovsk
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The FISU Summer Universiade flame arrives in Khabarovsk

Four keepers of the flame - all students of the Far Eastern Federal University - arrived by train to deliver the miner's lantern in front crowds of students, locals, representatives of partner companies and torchbearers.

"We are a little bit sad to give the flame a send off but we are honourably handing it over to the students of Khabarovsk," said Vladimir Zhemer, one of the keepers who takes turns on the night shift to ensure it is safely transported.

"We are confident that they will keep it with as much care as we did."

With 'Gaudemus Igitur', the official FISU anthem, playing in the background, the torchbearers kicked off the relay in Lenin Square, where Khabarovsk's major institutions of higher education are located.

The ceremony was attended by several high rankings officials of Khabarovsk, representatives of the city's sports community, young people from Khabarovsk Territory and local citizens.

Dmitry Ivanenko, a renowned weightlifter from Khabarovsk, was handed the honour of being the first torchbearer in Khabarovsk. Having run his leg, he handed the torch to Sergey Golitsyn, the rector of the 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," Golitsyn said. "I'm grateful to the Universiade torch relay organisers for entrusting us with the honour 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 relay's route will run through the most popular landmarks of Khabarovsk, including N.N.Muravyov-Amursky - the street named after the legendary Governor-General of Eastern Siberia - and the Khabarovsk Dormition Cathedral - fully reconstructed after being demolished in 1930 - among other places of interest.

The privilege of carrying the flame was granted to several famous and respected people of the city. Among them was kickboxing champion of Siberia Maksim Shtepenko, an MMA world and national champion and the Far East.

Also handed the flame were student activists Nadezhda Krikhtenko, Natalia Petrova and Vladimir Ananyev, and Sofia Epifanova, a journalist at the Guberniya Information and Television Agency.

"It's a very emotional and honourable moment for me," Epifanova said.

Also among the torchbearers were several representatives of the 2013 Summer Universiade torch relay partners.

"I'm so proud to have the honour 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 final 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 told Rossiya 24.

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, before travelling to Yakutsk.

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