Russia’s beach soccer stars Andrey Bukhlitskiy, Ilya Leonov and Anton Shkarin have today been announced by Baku 2015 as Athlete Ambassadors for this summer’s inaugural European Games.
Russia is the reigning FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup champion, having won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2013. Appearing in its first ever final in 2011, the national side surprised reigning champion Brazil to lift the trophy, with captain Ilya Leonov and Andrey Bukhlitsky picking up awards for best player and best goalkeeper, respectively.
Mr Simon Clegg, Chief Operating Officer of Baku 2015, said: “The Russian beach soccer team has displayed incredible dedication and teamwork to reach the top of their sport, and these are attributes that make them ideal ambassadors for the first ever European Games.”
“We look forward to seeing Andrey, Ilya and Anton compete for the inaugural European Games title in June.”
Baku 2015 Athlete Ambassadors will represent their sports and feature in marketing campaigns around the continent and on social media to promote the European Games.
Mr Leonov said: “We are very proud to be Athlete Ambassadors and to represent our country and the sport of beach soccer at the first European Games. We will do our best to raise the profile of the Games and the sport around the world, and to also create history and become the first ever European Games champion in beach soccer.”
Mr Bukhlitskiy, Mr Leonov and Mr Shkarin join German table tennis player Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Greek fencer Vassiliki Vougiouka, Irish boxer Katie Taylor, British taekwondo athlete Jade Jones, French rhythmic gymnast Kseniya Moustafaeva, Denmark’s canoe sprinter René Holten Poulsen, Serbia’s 3x3 basketball team of Dušan Domović Bulut, Marko Savic, Marko Zdero and Dejan Majstorovic, Poland mountain biker Maja Włoszczowska, and Italian shooter Niccolò Campriani as Baku 2015 international Athlete Ambassadors.
The Baku 2015 beach soccer competition starts on 24 June at the Beach Arena, and 98 athletes are expected to compete for the gold medal.