Sport in Moscow in 2016: Championships, RLD tests and new stadiums

Sport in Moscow in 2016: Championships, RLD tests and new stadiums
CSKA Stadium, the Synchronised Swimming Centre, new ice rinks, ski tracks, centres for testing future champions and Ready for Labour and Defence testing sites – these are some of the new facilities built for Moscow’s athletes in 2016. looks back on the city’s sporting life last year and picks the key sporting events of 2017.

Last year, some four million Muscovites, or twice as many as in 2010, were regularly engaged in sporting activities, including about 46,000 low-mobility people as compared to 24,000 in 2010. Every year, the city holds over 30,000 sporting and physical fitness events for sport-minded people, builds new sports complexes, lays out ski tracks and opens ice rinks and sports grounds fitted with exercise equipment.

The voting results on the Active Citizen website reveal how much interest Muscovites take in sport: last year, 222,465 people took part in the discussion of the Moscow Sport at Luzhniki project; 215,468 were involved in registering new coaches; 212,572 gave their appraisal of the Moscow Ski Run and the National Running Day events; over 205,000 people voted in favour of the project to open children’s Ready for Labour and Defence (RLD) test centres; and over 191,000 supported the ‘Sport for the Whole Family’ programme.  

Ready for Labour and Defence Test in Moscow

In 2016, the city unveiled 21 RLD test centres and over 100 RLD sports grounds and held 24 citywide and local RLD festivals. Now that a three-year trial period for taking the RLD test is over, anyone can do it officially, beginning in 2017.  

The RLD test is divided into 11 grades depending on age – from six to over 70 – and three levels of difficulty to qualify for gold, silver and bronze badges. This is to test one’s strength, endurance, flexibility, agility and dexterity. The test includes, among other things, short- and long-distance running, the discus throwing or throwing other heavy objects, throwing a tennis ball at a target, toe touches, chin-ups and push-ups, jumping, shuttle running, shooting and swimming.                

To qualify for RLD badges, first register on the website to get a personal identification number. Then submit an application. Only applicants having a doctor’s certificate indicating their level of physical fitness will be allowed to take the test. In addition to RLD test centres, people are invited to test their athletic abilities by taking part in major sporting events. For example, the RLD event at Poklonnaya Gora last May attracted about 6,000 people.

Centres for testing future champions

There are several dozen thousand hobby groups, including sports groups, in Moscow. How should parents choose between boxing and swimming or between ice hockey, football and biathlon for their children? To help parents decide which sport their child is inclined towards, several athletic ability test centres, fitted with leading-edge equipment, opened in Moscow. 

The comprehensive test programme takes about 80 minutes. It includes taking body dimension measurements and testing a child’s flexibility, strength and speed ability, as well as memory, mental agility and temperament. Then parents are given a conclusion complete with recommendations.

Testing is intended for children between the ages of 6 and 12. The centres are open from September through December every day, including weekends, from 9 am until 6 pm. Each can receive 25 children a day. Appointments must be booked in advance on the website, directly at the centres or by calling a hotline: 8 495 788 1111. Parents can test their children without anyone’s assistance at home or in a courtyard using a simpler version of the testing method.

From October through December last year, 5,000 children were tested, with 15 percent of the children using the programme to choose a different sport. Currently, specialists are analysing the data to improve the testing methods.

The athletic abilities test centres were opened following a public vote on the Active Citizen website, in which 205,720 people took part: 66 percent of respondents want the opportunity to choose either to identify on their own what activity is the best for their child or consult experts about the testing programme.

International competitions and amateur games

Last year, Moscow hosted 63 major sporting events. International federations praised the 2016 World Ice Hockey Championship, the World Modern Pentathlon Championships, the Women’s Handball World Championship for women under 20, the World Dragon Boat Racing Championships and the European Canoeing Championships.

Moscow-based athletes who took part in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games account for over half of all gold medals won by Russian athletes. In all, they won 27 medals, including 11 gold, 8 silver and 8 bronze medals.

Those who do not think of themselves as professionals attend public sporting events. The number of participants in these events has grown to 2.4 million people from 1.75 million seven years ago. The most popular event was the Day of Moscow Sport at Luzhniki, which attracted 110,000 people. Some 30,000 people ran in the Moscow Marathon and 17,000 people competed in the Moscow Ski Track race.

From physical fitness centres to ski tracks: Sports for half a million Muscovites 

There are about 20,000 sporting facilities in Moscow, including physical fitness facilities, swimming pools, car racetracks and cycle tracks. Over 467,000 people can attend them at any one time. 

Last summer, jogging and bicycle lanes and sports grounds with exercise equipment appeared in the areas around sporting facilities, as well as in parks, protected nature areas and courtyards. The number of these facilities has increased several times compared to 2010; for example, the number of sports grounds with exercise equipment rose from 369 to 1,245. In the winter, skiers could choose between 370 ski tracks with a total overall length of 616 kilometres, up 150 percent from 2010. The number of ice rinks has increased by 30 percent – from 1,140 to 1,474.

The Olympic Synchronised Swimming Centre and CSKA Stadium were the most ambitious sports projects in 2016. The centre features two swimming pools, an acrobatics gym, a choreography room, a physical fitness gym and a medical rehabilitation centre. As for the CSKA Complex, in addition to a 30,000-seat stadium, it offers a youth sport school, a club museum, restaurants, cafes, a souvenir shop, a medical office, a hotel and offices.  

Competitions, festivals and new sport complexes in the pipeline

The FIFA Confederations Cup – a dry run ahead of the World Cup – is the most long-awaited sporting event this year. Spartak Stadium will host matches in Moscow, of which there will be four: Chile vs Cameroon on 18 June, Russia vs Portugal on 21 June, Chile vs Australia on 25 June and the third-place playoff on 2 July.  

Moscow is set to receive athletes and fans: the city’s hotels and hostels have already been ranked. Mobile information desks will be installed near metro stations, at railway stations and airports by June. Live voice announcements at all railway stations will be repeated in English. By the time Moscow hosts the Confederations Cup and the World Cup, everything will be ready for buses carrying fans to start running in temporary designated lanes. To watch matches, fans will be able to get to the stadiums by public transport for free.

This year, Moscow will also serve as a venue for other major competitions, including the Kharlampiyev Memorial World Sambo Cup; a leg of the figure skating Grand Prix series; the Moscow Saber International Fencing Tournament among men and women (Grand Prix); the Grand Moscow Regatta International Boat Racing Competitions; and the Kremlin Cup, a tennis tournament. All these events will attract professional athletes, while people who just like to stay fit and healthy will be invited to 14 citywide and 147 local RLD events, as well as public events like City Day in Luzhniki and Moscow Sport in Luzhniki. 

Plans for 2017 include opening 48 sporting facilities, including two major projects – the Grand Sports Arena in Luzhniki and Arena of Legends Aquapark – and seven football pitches with infrastructure and the same number of sport complexes.

One physical fitness complex will be built for people with disabilities. A two-storey building with 5,000 square metres will accommodate two swimming pools – one for swimming and the other for therapeutic baths – a gym with simulators, an all-purpose gym and massage rooms.