Modern Belarus is a full-fledged member of the global sport community. Belarus is among the top 20 countries out of 200 states taking part in the Olympic Games.
Belarus is rightly considered the country of sport fans. The country has adopted a number of legal documents, provides financing for the development of physical education and sport, construction and maintenance of sports facilities, recuperation centers, sports clubs, trains specialists in physical education and sport, has many elite sportsmen.
A healthy lifestyle is a trademark of Belarus
People’s health, development of physical education and sport are the priorities of the Belarusian social policy. Promotion of physical education and development of mass sports are in the center of attention of President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. According to the head of state, a healthy lifestyle has become Belarus’ trademark.
More than 16,000 sport events are held in Belarus every year. The country conducts such traditional sport competitions, as Belarusian Ski Track, the Independence Day sports festival, the nationwide cross-country race for the prizes of the newspaper Sovetskaya Belorussiya. Belarus holds the national football competition for children and teenagers Leather Ball, the handball competition Swift Ball, the Snow Sniper competition in biathlon, cross-country skiing, and airgun shooting and the ice hockey competition Golden Puck.
Special attention in Belarus is paid to promoting sport among children and the youth. There are many junior sport clubs and groups in the country. Belarus has a lot of training centers for professional athletes in Belarus. These include the Belarusian State University of Physical Education, Olympic reserve colleges, Olympic reserve schools, 185 sport schools for children and the youth.
Belarus has a well-developed sports infrastructure which is constantly improving. There are more than 23,000 sports facilities in the country. Every oblast capital in Belarus has an ice palace, an indoor ice arena. More and more big sport facilities are built in the regions. These include sport complexes in Lida, a rowing facility in Zhlobin, a water sports palace in Brest, ice palaces in Pinsk, Baranovichi, Ivatsevichi and other facilities. Sports infrastructure is being developed in rural areas.
There are many world-class sports facilities for elite and amateur sportsmen in Belarus. These include:
Minsk Arena and Chizhovka Arena were the main venues for the 2014 IIHF World Championship. Both arenas are located in Minsk in the vicinity of hotels and other important facilities. The decision of the Annual Congress of the International Ice Hockey Federation to hold the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus is a token of recognition of Belarus’ development of ice hockey and considerable success in creating a modern team sports infrastructure.
2014 IIHF World Championship
The 2014 IIHF World Championship took place in Belarus. At the Annual Congress of the International Ice Hockey Federation which took place on 8 May 2009 Belarus got 75 votes out of 105 in the race for hosting the 2014 IIHF World Championship.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has always praised Belarus’ potential for holding prestigious tournaments. In 2004 Belarus played host to the IIHF Continental Cup Super Final and the IIHF World U18 Championship. Since then Belarus has played host to many ice hockey competitions.
The 78th IIHF World Championship took place in Minsk on 9-25 May 2014. Partaking in the competition were 16 national teams. The 2014 IIHF World Championship mascot was a bison whose name is Volat.
All participants of the competition as well as ticket holders got the right to visa-free entry to Belarus for the period from 25 April to 31 May 2014. The decision was formalized by the presidential decree. Official participants of the championship had to be in lists of the official accreditation system of the International Ice Hockey Federation while tourists had to present an original ticket or a digital one for championship matches.
Belarus and the Olympics
The first time Belarusians took part in the Olympic Games was in 1952. Three-time Olympic champion in wrestling Alexander Medved, four-time Olympic champion in artistic gymnastics Olga Korbut and four-time Olympic champion in fencing Yelena Belova, five-time Olympic champion Nelly Kim, six-time Olympic champion Vitaly Shcherba and many others are now part of the Olympics history.
The first independent Belarusian Olympic team took part in the Olympic Games in 1994. So far 92 Belarusian athletes have won 87 Olympic medals: 13 gold, 29 silver and 45 bronze. Belarusian Olympic champions are Ekaterina Karsten (rowing, 1996, 2000), Ellina Zvereva (discus throw, 2000), Yanina Korolchik (shot put, 2000), Igor Makarov (judo, 2004), Yuliya Nesterenko (women’s 100m, 2004), Alexei Abalmasov, Artur Litvinchuk, Vadim Makhnev and Roman Petrushenko (men’s kayak four, 2008), Andrei Aryamnov (weightlifting, 2008), Alexander Bogdanovich and Andrei Bogdanovich (men’s canoe double, 2008), Oksana Menkova (hammer throw, 2008), Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi (tennis mixed doubles, 2012), Sergei Martynov (rifle prone, 2012), Alexei Grishin (freestyle, 2010).
The first Olympic medal in the history of sovereign Belarus was brought by Ekaterina Karsten. Belarus’ Alexei Grishin became the first gold medalist at the Winter Olympic Games. Brest athlete Yuliya Nesterenko clinched a sensational victory in women’s 100m. Sergei Martynov of Belarus became the Olympic champion with a new world record.
The 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi were the most successful games in the history of Belarusian sport. Belarusian athletes won 5 gold medals (Darya Domracheva – 3, Alla Tsuper – 1, Anton Kushnir - 1) and 1 bronze medal (Nadezhda Skardino). Three-time Olympic champion Darya Domracheva was awarded the Hero of Belarus
At the 31st Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Belarusian athletes claimed nine medals: one gold medal (Vladislav Goncharov), four silver medals (Darya Naumova, Vadim Streltsov, Maria Mamoshuk, Ivan Tikhon), four bronze medals (Aleksandra Gerasimenya, Ibragim Saidov, Javid Hamzatov, the women’s rowing team – Margarita Makhneva, Nadezhda Lepeshko, Olga Khudenko, and Marina Litvinchuk).
Belarus also has a strong Paralympics team. At the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Canada’s Vancouver Belarusian athletes won 9 medals (2 gold, 7 bronze). At the 2012 Paralympics in London Belarus scored 10 medals (5 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze). The team landed 25th in the overall medals table. Belarusian swimmer Igor Boki clinched five gold medals. The athlete won the 200m individual medley with a new world record. At the 15th Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro the Belarusian team claimed ten medals: eight gold medals (Igor Boki - six, Andrei Pranevich - one, Vladimir Izotov - one), two bronze medals (Alexander Ttiput, Igor Boki).
More than 130 sports are popular in Belarus. And every sport can boast a lot of bright achievements and famous names.