Olympic torch reaches KazakhstanApril 2nd, 2008 - 6:08 pm ICT by admin
Astana (Kazakhstan), Apr.1 (ANI): The Olympic flame will start its relay around the world from Kazakhstan from today.
Almaty which is Kazakhstans capital of culture, science and finance was chosen as the starting point for the torchs itinerary across the globe.
The symbolic flame will be carried through Almatys streets on Tuesday by 80 Kazakh torchbearers including representatives of 10 ethnic groups, every different age bracket and myriad professions.
Among the torch bearers will be Kazakhstans President Nazarbayev - who will run a 250m stretch of the relay.
The other important bearers will include seven Kazakh Olympic champions: the Olympic wrestling champion of 1980, Zhaksylyk Ushkempirov; the skiing champion of 1994, Vladimir Smirnov; wrestling champion Yuri Melnichenko (1996); weightlifting champion Anatoly Khrapatyi (1988); boxing champion Ermakhan Ibraimov (2000); track-and-field athletics champion Olga Shishigina (2000); boxing champion Bakhtyar Artayev (2004).
These sporting giants are joined by nine other Olympic silver and bronze medal winners - including the first ever Kazakh Olympic athlete Eugenyi Kodyaikin (who took part in the Melbourne Olympics in 1956).
Kazakh performing artists such as the singers Roza Rymbayeva, Alibek Dnishev, Batyrkhan Shukenov and a handful of prominent politicians will also take part in the relay.
The famous motorcyclist Dmitry Petrukhin will ride a distance holding high the Olympic torch. Nagano Olympics prize-winner Lyudmila Prokasheva will also carry the torch through Almatys Medeo skating rink.
The entire relay will stretch over 20km starting at 15.00 and pass various civic landmarks such as the Palace of the Republic until its arrival at 17:00 at Astana Square where an open air concert begins. The event will be broadcast live in over 160 countries.
The National Olympic team of Kazakhstan comprises 365 athletes - among them one Olympic champion and five Olympic runners-up, 15 world champions and 26 world championship prize-takers. There are 108 Asian champions and 23 champions of the recent Asian Games in the team as well.
The average age of Kazakh athletes is 25.
Throughout 2007, these athletes faced qualifying competitions and the Asian Championships to gain Olympic licenses. To this end, Kazakh teams participated in a total of 212 official training sessions, 167 international contests, 24 world championships, 30 Asian Championships and 15 world cups, as well as 36 Olympic license competitions.
Kazakh athletes won:1 gold, 1 silver and 8 bronze medals at various world championships 24 gold, 27 silver, 31 bronze medals at Asian championship levels 2 gold, 4 silver and 7 bronze medals - at world cup competitions.
As of now, Kazakh athletes have gained 75 Olympic licenses in 16 separate sporting disciplines. The goal, however, is to secure 100-110 licenses in all.
Ultimately, impressive results at the Beijing Olympics are being forecast
Boxing was the only discipline in which Kazakh athletes won a gold and two bronze medals at the world champion level.
At the Asian qualifying boxing tournament on March 23rd, Kazakh boxers gained five licenses for Mirat Sarsenbayev, Kanat Abutalipov, Galib Dzhafarov, Merei Akshalov, Ruslan Myrsatayev. Another five licenses were gained at an earlier qualifying tournament in Thailand for Birzhan Zhakipov, Serik Sapiev, Bakhyt Sarsekbayev, Bakhtiyar Artayev, Erkebulan Shinaliev.
Weightlifting teams (both mens and womens) gained nine out of a possible ten licenses for the Olympics so good results in August are expected from them.
Medals could also be won by O. Smirnova, E. Shalygina and O. Zhanibekova from the Female free-style wrestling team. Olga Dovgun, leader of the Kazakh rifle shooting team won the World Cup in Sydney so hopes are riding high for her team, as are hopes for a successful result for the Kazakh handball players who gained the only Team Sports license for Kazakhstan at the Asian Championship.
Out of the Kazakh athletes already chosen for the Olympics, between 16-20 are likely to compete for top places (from 1st to 6th) - these include 2007 modern pentathlon leader Lada Dzhienbalanova, track-and-field world champion bronze prize-winner Dmitry Karpov and the Asian Games champion and 2006 world swimming champion (breast-stroke 200m) Vladislav Polyakov.
To promote high-level sporting achievement in Kazakhstan, the Kazakh government has put in place an effective incentive system for instance, national rewards to Olympic champions have been increased from USD 100 000 to USD 250 000. (ANI)
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