Olympic leap: From London 2012 to Sochi 2014 (VIDEO)

Russia Sochi Park has welcomed its first visitors in London's Kensington Gardens. The interactive center is aimed at showing the Western public the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and all its facilities - as well as the country’s new face.

­The president of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, welcomed journalists on Thursday in the very center of the British capital. He acted as their personal guide on a virtual tour of the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and Russia’s largest resort city on the Black Sea coast.

The opening ceremony was attended by Aleksandr Zhukov, the first deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma and president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Dmitry Kozak, Russia’s deputy prime minister, and Aleksandr Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom.

“Viewers in all continents will watch the Olympic opening ceremony in London. Russians have a special interest in these games,” Itar-Tass quoted Kozak as saying. “We are going to host the next games in Sochi almost 18 months from now. Our mission is to show the country, the city and the image of future Winter Olympic Games.”

Russia Sochi Park boasts a series of themed halls featuring various aspects of the future games, as well as regional cultural and natural marvels. Interactive screens offer a virtual tour of Southern Russia’s Krasnodar Region. Visitors can also test themselves as Formula 1 drivers and try out the prospective speedway, which is currently under construction.

One of the halls is designed to imitate a train that travels through the most picturesque corners of the country, before reaching the site of the future Olympic Games.

Organizers promise a true adventure in the center’s spacious 4D-cinema, where three giant screens show spectacular vistas of the city and surrounding snow-capped mountains, while computer-controlled simulators let you challenge yourself in a number of Olympic disciplines to find out how good an athlete you are.

It has taken one year to create the hi-tech part of the exhibition. To guarantee the success of the 2014 games, Russian authorities have promised to use “all the means and intellectual resources” of the country.

“One of the key missions of Russia Sochi Park here in London is to break the stereotypes. There is this erroneous perception of Russia in the West – all these bears, the balalaikas and so on. Here, through this innovative center, we do our best to present a new Russia – a modern country with positive changes,” Chernyshenko told reporters.

“Russia has a lot to show the world,” he added.