Trakai – A small place for big events
Written by: Dino Đula, Kristina Gedgaudaitė
Photos by: Ugnė Jurgelevičiūtė
Situated in the south of Lithuania, in a short distance from the capital Vilnius, lies the small town of Trakai, populated by around 5,000 people and occupying not more than 12 km2. Lake Galvė and the Trakai island castle (the only one in this part of Europe) are some of the sites tourists visit every day. But the flat lake’s surface and the beautiful scenery attract many others who come there not only to relax and to buy souvenirs, but also – to row.
It has been 3 years since the venue for the 2013 World Junior Championship was announced in New Zeland, putting Trakai once more on the world map when it comes to rowing, a very important sport in Lithuania. Trakai has been a venue for big competitions since 2002, hosting so far 4 world championships in different categories, and still the excitement over the upcoming one is at its peak.
“I was the luckiest one to hear the final announcements”, says Rima Karalienė, vice-president of the Lithuanian Rowing Federation, while revealing the secret of this success. “As you saw today the flat water, wonderful landscape and the perfect weather, main advantages of Trakai as a venue are clear.”
But the biggest advantage could possibly be the fact that the Galvė lake offers a natural racing course, the best experience for young rowers who are this year facing very important challenges.
“Except for the medals, this is the trial race; qualification for the Youth Olympic Games. For some of them this is their first World Rowing Championship and young rowers are especially competitive.”, Ms Karalienė emphasizes the importance of the competition.
But this all would not be possible if it weren’t for ‘a small army’ of volunteers who have been working hard on preparations for this event since the beginning of August.
Jonė Vaitulevičiūtė has been included in the event‘s management for several month now, working in the Events section. „Everything is on time“, she says. “It’s going smoothly. We did a lot of things beforehand, and now we are just arranging volunteers for the parade (NOTE: that precedes the official opening ceremony).”
“Our team consists of 10 people. We began operating from the 2nd of August and today we are actually finishing our work.”, says Rasa Midverienė,the Accreditations centre’s coordinator. “It can be a little bit difficult, but we work hard and well.”
The atmosphere on the venue is cheerful, maintained by hundreds of volunteers that came to Lithuania even from other countries, such as Croatia or Czech Republic. Is it because of making new friends, gaining a lot of experience or improving their competences; the reason for coming to Trakai varies from a volunteer to a volunteer.
But everyone has their mind set to one goal – making this competition the best one yet.