FINA President Husain Al-Musallam Hosts Opening Press Conference Of 2022 World Championships

Al Musallam
Photo Courtesy: Husain Al-Musallam Twitter

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FINA president Husain Al-Musallam hosted the opening press conference of the World Championships in Budapest which start on Saturday 18 June.

Al-Musallam was joined by Hungarian minister of defence Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky, chairman of the local organising committee Sandor Wladar and Balazs Furjes, deputy minister and FINA Bureau member.

Also present was Brent Nowicki, executive director of FINA, and Olympic champions Florian Wellbrock and Yui Ohashi.

The event was held on the ‘Stopper’ boat moored on the River Danube in the Hungarian capital and was attended by press from around the world.

Al-Musallam offered his gratitude to Budapest and the city and national authorities for putting on the “extraordinary” World Championships which were announced in February following the postponement of the event in Fukuoka, Japan, until July 2023.

It comes five years after the meet was held in the same Duna Arena five years ago.

He said:

“I’m very happy to be here in this city. After five years since our successful 2017 World Championships, I’d like to put on record our appreciation and thanks for Budapest city, the swimming federation of Hungary and finally the government for giving us this opportunity to have the 19th FINA World Championships in the beautiful city of Budapest.

“Especially after the Covid and war in Ukraine.

“This gives a good opportunity for our athletes to perform here and compete and show their excellence.

“For four months the Hungarian federation, the government of Hungary worked very hard and no-one was thinking that we would have the World Championships but now we are here together in Budapest.”

Szalay-Bobrovniczky added:

“I am more impressed to welcome you back in Hungary again: it is a tremendous honour to have you here and it is incredible that in such a short time we have been able to host you.

“The world has become a more difficult place since we last came together and many of the athletes wouldn’t enjoy their chosen and beloved passion and competing in swimming and water polo and the rest.

“This occasion gives us this joy again so I wish for all of us a wonderful time here in Budapest and I am sure the organisers will do everything and the athletes will do their utmost to make this an unforgettable and wonderful experience.”

A new partnership was unveiled with Mikasa to be the official water polo ball supplier.

Nowicki pointed to the close personal links being forged between federation and athletes with mentoring relationships between retired and current swimmers as well as opportunities provided by the governing body to increase practical learning and life skills.

FINA will award a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) to each athlete who sets an individual world record at the Duna Arena in addition to the 50,000 US dollar bonus.

Nowicki said:

“The fact we are competing here in such a short time is remarkable.

The president has taken a very innovative and entrepeneurial approach to athlete engagement.

“We’ve done some new things here at this champ – we have launched a new NFT programme for world record-holders, that is one of a kind in the international sports world.”

Ohashi claimed double IM gold at her home Games in Tokyo last year and of what time she believed it would take to win this time out, she said:

“I have good memories here of this pool and I am so honoured to be here again. I have expectation of myself and I am not sure I can get a gold here but I am looking to compete against my rivals….I will do my best.”

Wellbrock won the 10k in the hot water of Tokyo Bay last year after claiming bronze in the 1500m.

The German won the pool and open water double at the last worlds in Gwangju and said:

“It’s great to be back in Budapest: it is not easy to defend my world titles in the 1500 and 10k.

“It’s really competitive so I am really excited to race.”

Wellbrock has invited his friend and rival Mykhailo Romanchuk to train with him in Magdeburg following the war in the two-time Olympic medallist’s native Ukraine.

“Mykhailo is a good friend of mine and everybody knows about the situation in Ukraine so I invited him to train with our group in Magdeburg.

“It is hard for him to focus on sport when his family is still in Ukraine; I think it’s really good and training is good and we can see some good results at this World Championships.”

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