Meet Itil and Alsu, the official mascots of Kazan 2015!

Kazan 2015

The official marks of the 16th FINA World Championships were presented at the Kazan Arena Stadium on March 27. FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione, FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu and Director General of the Kazan 2013 Executive Directorate Azat Kadyrov unveiled the slogan, logo and mascots of the upcoming sporting event.

The mascots are two snow leopards, Itil (boy) and Alsu (girl). In the context of the Championships, this animal symbolises skill, swiftness and power. The male name, Itil, is the medieval name of the Volga River, and it is still used in the Kazakh, Chuvash, Tatar, Bashkir, Kalmyk and Mongolian languages. The female name, Alsu, is the common Tatar name meaning ‘pink-coloured water’ or figuratively ‘rosy cheeks’, which is strongly connected with the idea of water and healthy lifestyle. When choosing the mascots’ names, the organisers kept in mind such criteria as uniqueness, clarity of perception, ease of memorisation, national colour and the ways the names are pronounced in different languages, which is particularly important for the international event.

A nationwide competition was held to choose the best mascot design for the event. Throughout one month all citizens of Russia had been sending in their own visions of a mascot which was to become an embodiment of sports, youth, water sports and our country’s rich traditions. Entries were submitted by representatives of different regions of Russia, among them professional designers, schoolchildren, students and sports enthusiasts. Given that the majority of concepts were identical, the contest organisers decided to make a shortlist of mascot designs and put forward the best graphic representations to the public online vote on the official Kazan 2015 website. More than 3,000 votes have been cast within one week. The snow leopard became the ‘people’s choice’ and its creator Anastasia Tsygina was granted an unlimited free access to all the sporting events of the upcoming 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan.

The Kazan 2015 official mascots - photo credit: Kazan 2015 Organising Committee

“The snow leopard is one of the symbols of the Republic of Tatarstan, among others it appears on our region’s emblem. Uni the winged snow leopard kitten was the mascot of the 27th Summer Universiade 2013 in Kazan, and it may be said without exaggeration that it took the fancy of all guests and participants of the Games. Therefore, the snow leopard is associated with high sports achievements of Tatarstan and its capital city, Kazan,” Azat Kadyrov said while extending his congratulations to the winner.

The slogan ‘Water of Life’ reflects the mystical powers of water, as in many fairy-tales the Water of Life is able to rejuvenate a person, return his strength and even bring him back to life. In Russian it sounds ‘Zhivaya Voda’ that refers to exactly the same meaning. This slogan was chosen for a good reason as the benefits of playing water sports were proved both by experts and thousands of aquatic sports enthusiasts.

The Kazan 2015 logo is a stylised depiction of Kazan located on the banks of the Volga and Kazanka rivers. The six inner silhouettes are the six sports of the future Championships. The watercolour technique was chosen due to it being synonymous with water.