(ATR) Volunteers Aliaksandr Bahatka and Maryia Aniskovich had the honor of presenting medals to athletes at the gymnastics and cycling medal ceremonies on the final day of competition at the European Games in Minsk, Belarus.
Aliaksandr Bahatka about to present gymnastics medals at Minsk Arena (EOC)
The event marked a milestone for both multi-sport organizers and volunteers as Bahatka and Aniskovich were selected from among 8,700 change-makers offering their services to the multi-sport event in the Belarusian capital.
Medals are generally presented by NOC presidents and secretary generals, but the European Olympic Committees (EOC) opted to break tradition at the second edition of the European Games in order to reward two exceptional volunteers for their hard work and effort at the Games.
“We decided it at the end of these Games to have one male and one female given the opportunity to feel the pride, not just their own pride, but it was pride for the 8,000 volunteers,” said EOC leader and new IOC member, Spyros Capralos. “They felt ecstatic about this idea and we feel it received very positive feedback from everybody.”
“The two students stood out thanks to their devotion, enthusiasm towards the volunteer movement and sincere interest in the job,” said Nadezhda Anisovets, head of volunteers for the Minsk 2019 organizing committee (MEGOC).
The 19-year-old Bahatka, who is a student of Radiophysics at the Belarusian State University, awarded the gymnasts Sunday afternoon at the Minsk Arena.
“It was crazy – the atmosphere at the venue was awesome, and I feel so proud to represent MEGOC 2019,” Bahatka said.
“I was so surprised when they told me I was presenting the medals, because I didn’t know that volunteers could do this. I called my mum right afterwards, and she was so proud.”
As part of his duties, Bahatka volunteered at Minsk’s Dinamo Stadium, assisting at the athletics events.
Maryia Aniskovich presents medals at the track cycling venue. (Trinadh Rakesh/EOC)
The 21-year-old Aniskovich, who presented the medals at the track cycling ceremony at the Velodrome Arena, expressed gratitude and excitement.
“I felt a little bit nervous because it is the first time in the history of the Games that volunteers got to do this, so it was such a great pleasure for me and I am very excited,” she said. “The whole Games was such a wonderful experience, because everything was so well-organised at the venues and all the foreigners I talked to were also very happy.”
Aniskovich, who is a student of World Economy at the Belarusian State University, volunteered at the Falcon Club, the badminton venue at the Games, as part of the EOC Family Cultural Program.
Both volunteers previously assisted MEGOC during the preparatory period of the Games at various test events in sambo, boxing, gymnastics and the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2019, as well as sport draws and diplomatic briefings leading up to the Games.
“It was the first time they’ve delivered medals, but from my point of view, they deserved the medals,” said EOC president Janez Kocijančič.
The closing ceremony, which will be attended by IOC president Thomas Bach, concludes the second edition of the European Games Sunday night at Dinamo Stadium.
Written by Veronika Lukashevich and Brian Pinelli in Minsk
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