28 Balandis 2016
For the forty-second year in a row, race walking professionals and amateurs will meet in Alytus. A solid number, rich history, cherished traditions and great respect for people who bother to gather the best walkers in the most beautiful European country every year.
The international race walking festival is a great celebration for its participants and an excellent example for the young generation. The festival teaches how important it is to be constantly on the move, not be afraid to do what you love and never give up.
The forty-second international race walking festival is special and highly anticipated. This year everyone's eyes, sympathies and hopes will be on the participants of Rio Olympics.
I wish all walkers to catch up to the Olympic race walking participants and to the latter - to make every effort to reach the Olympic podium.
Director General of the Department of Physical Education and Sports of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania
11 Balandis 2016
it is not the first time that I am greeting participants of the International Race Walking Festival and thanking you all for taking part in this traditional international event. But this time my greetings are very special, because future members of our Olympic Team are taking part in this event.
Race walking has deep traditions in Lithuania that are connected closely to this festival and its' organisers. We must be thankful to motivated people who love this sport, thanks to them our athletes gladden us with their achievements in various races and championships. I am sure that such massive events with international attention inspire young generation to choose sport. And I am certain that the 42nd festival will motivate young athletes to aim for Olympic heights. Probably it was not the accident that our Olympian Brigita Virbalytė-Dimšienė, who comes from Alytus and was the 7th in the world last year, chose this sport too.
Have a successful start in the festival. I wish our Olympians fast and strong steps towards Olympic dream.
President of Lithuanian National Olympic Committee
03 Vasaris 2016
08 Balandis 2014
The first race walking competitions in Alytus was held four decades ago. In 1975 19 athletes from Alytus, Birštonas and Druskininkai took part in the event. The number of participants has been growing every year. The competition became popular in Lithuania and well known in foreign countries. Competitors from 36 countries, including Algeria, Kazakhstan, Belgium, Israel, Tajikistan, Italy, Azerbaijan, Sweden, France, Russia, Greece, Serbia, Spain, Mexico, represented their states in these competitions. The most numerous competitions were in 1988 – 386 athletes took part and even more were willing to compete, however due to lack of accommodation facilities they were refused the possibility. The Alytus’ festival was one of the first, where sport and culture were connected, and one of the first in Eastern Europe, where the winners received valuable money or material prizes. Some famous race walkers started their sports career in the Alytus’ festival.
Alytus has seen Olympic, World, European, African, American or Asian champions and silver or bronze medallists, as well as World record-holders. On the streets of Alytus one could see E. Nikolajeva, V.Cibulskaja, E. Misiulia, O. Kardopolceva, S. Eidikytė, K. Saltanovič, A. Perlov, R. Veigel, P. Počenčuk, A. Potašov, V. Kazlauskas, A. Fadejevs, J. Diniz. T. Gudkova, E Sanchez, T.Nymark, G. Sudol. In 1980 the first competition for women was held here. Sportswomen were wearing skirts, what now may make one smile, but at that time it was normal.
Alytus may be proud not only of this festival, but also of its athletes. R.Šimkevičius, R. Erlingytė, D. Baranauskaitė and A. Lebedžius became champions, silver or bronze medallists of the USSR. The latter won European Junior Championships bronze medal. Alytus people can also be proud of the four race walkers, who represented Lithuania at the Olympic Games. Gintaras Andriuškevičius competed on the Olympic course in Athens, brothers Škarnuliai made their debut in Beijing, Brigita Virbalyte contested in London Olympics.
Lithuanian athletes and athletes from many foreign countries will contest for valuable money or material prizes, and will strive to achieve the qualification standards for this year World Championships.
Founder and organizer of the Alytus’ festival