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28 August 2019

Celebrating the power of skills at WorldSkills Kazan 2019 Closing Ceremony

It may well have been the wettest Closing Ceremony ever, but it took more than a drop of rain to damp the glorious final moments of WorldSkills Kazan 2019.

It may well have been the wettest Closing Ceremony ever, but it took more than a drop of rain to damp the glorious final moments of WorldSkills Kazan 2019.

The finale of the 45th WorldSkills Competition had everything. Passion, color, emotion, camaraderie ⎼ and, yes, a torrential downpour.

Over 40,000 people packed the Kazan Arena Stadium to watch the medal presentations, but also to come together to celebrate not just the winners, but all those taking part and the role skills play in our world.

It was spirit of togetherness for a better future that was echoed both by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and WorldSkills President Simon Bartley, as they addressed both the crowd and a live television audience.

WorldSkills Kazan  2019 was a “common legacy” for all the world “So that everyone of any age and health condition is able to reach their potential, choose their own path in training and development, and master relevant skills throughout their life,” said President Putin, after flying in from Moscow to the capital of Tatarstan.

Mr Bartley told all those watching the ceremony, “We are celebrating with one single voice united in our passion for skills and skills competitions”.

“I have met the Champions and I know the future is safe in their hands,” he added, in what was his final duty after eight years as WorldSkills President

The party had begun even as the Competitors ⎼ over 1,300 from 63 Member countries and regions ⎼ entered the stadium.

As the results were announced, each medal winner was cheered loudly regardless of nationality, and if the noise was perhaps a little louder for the first Russian golds, it was understandable given Kazan’s passion for the Competition.

As the winners came up to one of two podiums, they also embraced each other even before medals were announced, bound together by their common experience after four days of competition.

As might have been expected, Russia, and China, the host for 2021, headed the medal table, with a strong performance by traditional WorldSkills powerhouses like Chinese Taipei, Austria and South Korea.

But in all, 15 countries and regions were awarded gold medals, or almost a quarter of those taking part.

They included countries like India, Ireland, Brazil, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Women showed their growing strength in the Competition, even in areas once thought of as a male preserve, like Ting-Yu Yang of Chinese Taipei, and Maxine Colligan from Australia, gold and bronze medal winners respectively in Car Painting.

In Floristry, a remarkable four gold medals were awarded after the top competitors, from Austria, South Tyrol Italy, Russia and China, all finished with exactly the same points total.

The humility and joy of all the winners was expressed in Aircraft Maintenance when the young UK winner, Haydn Jakes, realized as the medals were announced, that his was the last name to be called, and dropped to his knees in disbelief at winning the gold.

By now it was raining hard, and the Competitors had to be warned not to jump too hard or high in celebration in case they fell on the increasingly slippery stage.

But the ceremony continued without missing a beat. “We’re not afraid of the rain!” host Yana Churikova told the crowd to loud cheers.

To emphasize that all those taking part were champions in their own right, the Best of Nation awards were presented on stage by members of the WorldSkills Champions Trust, followed by a group photo in the Winners Circle.

The ceremony ended with the formal handing over of the official WorldSkills Flag to Shanghai, now with the badge of WorldSkills Russia attached alongside the 21 other countries who have hosted a WorldSkills Competition.

But before that there was one last award, to honor the highest scoring Competitor, the Albert Vidal Award.

Making the presentation was Paloma Vidal, the daughter of Francisco Albert Vidal, the founder of what was to become the WorldSkills movement in Spain in 1950.

As Mr Bartley opened the envelope it was revealed that the winner was Anastasiia Kamneva, the gold medal winner in Chemical Laboratory Technology, and from Russia.

Overcome with emotion, she was unable to speak when handed the microphone, while tears of joy streamed down her face to mix with the rain drops.

And then it was time to party!