Experts discussed the history of the Ready for Labor and Defense (GTO) badge, its revival and importance for encouraging healthy living and physical fitness at a news conference in the Host City Media Center.
"I am sure that the GTO complex is a showpiece of physical fitness and sport in Russia. It obviously stands apart in the development of the sports industry. It is a way of promoting and encouraging healthy living, physical fitness and sports," said Andrei Khort, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports at the St. Petersburg Administration.
He recalled that the Ready for Labor and Defense (GTO) complex was officially approved nationwide on March 11, 1931, and its 90th anniversary was celebrated on March 11 this year. The idea was actually laid to rest in 1991, but 23 years later it was revived in accordance with an executive order signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 24, 2014.
There are currently 22 GTO test centers in the city districts and at two universities in St. Petersburg, manned by some 150 professionals who oversee GTO tests at 270 sites.
Sergei Kabanov, Head of the GTO Event Organization Department of the St. Petersburg Center for Fitness and Sports, pointed out that the GTO complex not only provides the tests but also training for them.
He said that the GTO complex is not just a system and framework for physical education, but also a system that prepares people for physical performance, with 22 GTO centers staffed by sports instructors, who undertake training. He added that passing tests for a GTO badge is not an easy job that can be accomplished by simply rising from the sofa.
The GTO database includes 430,000 city residents and 182,000 of them have already received GTO badges: 83,000 have a gold badge, 60,000 silver badges and 38,000 bronze, Andrei Khort noted.
The GTO Test Center in the Vasileostrovsky District won the 2020 national sports prize in the category The GTO Complex as a Way to Health and Success. The center was hailed as the best agency introducing and promoting the GTO complex.
Yevgeny Ganzha, Department Head of the GTO Test Center at the Center for Physical Fitness, Sport and Health of the Vasileostrovsky District, pointed out that the center has a free group where people can come to train for GTO tests, including people with disabilities and children supervised by the juvenile police division. There is also a family club where GTO badge holders are encouraged to help their family members take up sports as well.
According to Ganzha, entire families take GTO tests and take part in the family sports contest.
Yury Nesterov, Olympic handball champion and GTO Ambassador in St. Petersburg, noted that sports achievements stimulate other people to emulate the best. He added that he received his first GTO badge at school.
"People never forget their prizes, and sport is a field of human endeavor where only the best receive prizes," he said. "The main thing is to work towards a prize, to look at others and strive towards achieving the same results. The same happens in sport as well: people look at the best and try to catch up or even overtake them," the GTO ambassador emphasized.
Yury Nesterov added that the GTO program is good not only for popularizing sports, but also healthy living.