By Gergely Csurka FINA Media Committee Member

And the show is going on

Though not on a stage on the River Danube but still in front of thousands, on the Margaret Island, another spectacular opening ceremony welcomed the FINA Family in Budapest, this time at the FINA Masters World Championships.

To show the importance of the event, a senior member of the Government, Minister Antal Rogan declared the championships open.

On behalf of FINA, Executive Director Cornel Marculescu greeted the Masters athletes and the organisers.

“After an outstanding elite competition here in Budapest, the FINA Family is again gathered for the celebration of the 2017 edition of the FINA World Masters Championships in the Magyar capital” he said.

He recalled that for the first time Kazan hosted the FINA World Championships and the Masters together and this proved to be a success in 2015.

“The Masters’ Movement principles are associated with fitness, friendship, understanding and competition. In Budapest, you will certainly apply and excel in the implementation of these values” Mr. Marculescu added.

“No matter the age or the discipline they chose to practice, the Masters competitors are true lovers of Aquatics. They travel sometimes from the other side of the planet, at their own cost, to promote our Sport. This is priceless and FINA certainly recognises and praises their effort and devotion.”

On behalf of the hosts, Vice-Mayor Balazs Szeneczey welcomed the competitors then, representing the Government and underlining the importance of the event, a senior member Minister Antal Rogan declared the FINA Masters World Championships open. Of course, the FINA Fountain next to the Duna Arena began to spread water to show that another big FINA Event began.

The fountain, created with the purpose to have something similar at the FINA Worlds as the flame at the Olympics, was one of the ‘first-time-evers’ Hungary offered during the 17th FINA World Championships.

To pick some more from that list, there is the magnificent Duna Arena which itself was a historical site as this was the very first edition which saw the swimming events staged in a classical indoor swimming complex (the previous 16 either were held in outdoor pools or in temporary ones set up in multifunctional halls or in a tennis arena or in a football stadium). And we can continue with the grand temporary structure for the high diving event (the 6m deep round pool), the unique environment for the synchro competition in front of the Vajdahunyad Castle and so on...

And now here is the FINA World Masters Championships, offering something never seen before.

Though it’s the second time that this event is held in the same city where the ‘big one’ was staged but Budapest opened a new chapter by inviting all participants competing in the very same venues where the greatest stars of aquatics shone in July.

The springboards of the diving tower in the Duna Arena saw great dives from Shi Tingmao and the other Chinese greats, the platform was the site where Tom Daley earned a brilliant win – now the Masters divers try to show their best from morning till afternoon.

Once the weather turned better – a cool wave terminated the brutal heat, good for the veteran athletes – and the rain stopped, the synchro swimmers held their breath first at poolside while enjoying the stunning view of the castle before starting there solo routines in the pool, following Svetlana Kolesnichenko and the other stars of the discipline.

And of course, the water polo players also felt honoured to play in the pools of the legendary Alfred Hajos Complex.

Here the grandstands were filled once again, just as if the clocked had turned back to 29 July when Hungary clashed with Croatia in the men’s World Championship final. This time 5,000 fans gathered (some parts of the extended tribunes had been dismantled since) as the legends of the sport, the 2000 Olympic winning team graced the scene (more details on this attraction during the following days).

After a week off, show must go on in Budapest – and it’s really going on!