(Friday, 29th September 2017 Issue)
The Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games came to an end on Wednesday night at the Ashgabat Olympic Stadium.
A total of 6000 athletes competed in 21 different sports in 15 venues as history was made and stars born in the 12 days of thrilling competition.
Ashgabat, meaning the city of Love would forever boast of successfully hosting an excellent showpiece that was broadcast throughout Asia and beyond.
The Games availed the host country the rare opportunity to place its name on the world map of sports.
The two-week competition would undoubtedly help the development of sports in the country with a population of 6 million people.
Thousands of visitors to the magnificent new Ashgabat Olympic Complex witnessed a festival of top-level sport.
US$5B was invested to put up the facilities for the event since Turkmenistan won the right to host the event in 2010.
Turkmenistan justified the meaning of hosting such an event, as they dominated the medal table from start to finish.
The host country’s total gold medal count of 89 included 39 gained in Belt Wrestling, and 23 in Traditional Wrestling. It won 245 medals in total.
China after a slow start finished the medal rank second on 42 gold, with strong showings in Short Course Swimming, Dancesport, Weightlifting and Billiards.
Islamic Republic of Iran was third, with 36 gold won. Its powers were in Wrestling and Taekwondo, and its men’s Futsal team was in a good form to win the gold medal in style.
Iranian weightlifter, SohrabMoradi, raised a new world record total lift in the men’s 94kg category.
Another country that was out for medals was Kazakhstan, as they triumphed at the Indoor Athletics, winning six gold over the three days of athletics competition.
Rypakova won the Long Jump before adding gold in Triple Jump. Kazakhstan finished fourth in the rankings overall, on 28 gold medals.
The Central Asian nation also excelled in the old Soviet army sport of Sambo, where its athletes stood atop the podium on seven occasions.
Uzbekistan’s glory came in the Kurash events, where its athletes tussled their way to seven titles.
Thailand was no match to any opponent in its own sport of Muaythai. Thai folk musicians at the venue added a special element to the atmosphere during the bout rounds, and some of the nation’s best up and coming athletes were inspired to win in seven categories.
Korea was at their best in Bowling, Swimming and Taekwondo, and in one memorable afternoon at the DanceSport Arena, with fans loving the showmanship and music, they won triple gold in Jive, Rumba and Cha-Cha-Cha.
Vietnam’s Le QuangLiem was the undisputed grand champion at the Chess Arena. His country also took two more golds in team events.
India’s best moments came at the Indoor Athletics Arena, where it won gold in men’s 1500m, 3000m and Triple Jump, and women’s Pentathlon and 1500m.
Qatar’s 3x3 Basketball team came to the Games as the big favourites for gold, and did not disappoint. Thailand’s triumph in the women’s tournament, however, was a major surprise.
At the much-hailed Equestrian Centre facility, Hamad Ali Al Attiayah of Qatar won gold in the Individual Jumping. Saudi Arabia won the Team gold and Turkmenistan’s NikolayBeglaryan won the AkhalTeke Cup.
The Refugee Team of Sudanese Nationals based in Kenya, which participated in the Games, was well received by fans at the Opening Ceremony, and at their Indoor Athletics competitions.
Africa Refugee Team athlete YiechPur Biel reached the semi-finals of the men’s 800m, but could not progress.
The honour of most medals won by an individual at the Games went to Chinese swimmer Sun Meichen, who returns home with four gold and three silver.
The golden boy for the Turkmenistan team was Seydi Batyrow, who won a total six gold medals, with four in Belt Wrestling and two in Traditional Wrestling.