Kazakh medal hopes rest on swimmers, taekwondoin and judokas
'Our goal is to show people that we are not giving up and are going to overcome this obstacle on the way of stabilising the situation in the whole world'16 Jul 2021
AGE NO BAR: Zulfiya Gabidullina of Kazakhstan celebrates on the podium after winning gold in the Women's 100m Freestyle at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The 50-year-old will be looking to retain her title in Tokyo.
ⒸBuda Mendes/Getty Images
Kazakhstan made their Paralympic debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games, but success came their way only at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. And that triggered the Paralympic Movement in the country.
The Central Asian country won two medals including a gold at Rio 2016 thanks to the efforts of their women Para athletes. Kazakhstan took their first ever gold medal through Zulfiya Gabidullina in women's freestyle 100 m (S3) final while Para powerlifter Raushan Koyshibayeva claimed a silver in women’s -67 kg event.
At the forthcoming Tokyo Paralympics, scheduled to be held between August 24 and September 5, Kazakhstan will be represented by 18 Para athletes, their biggest contingent ever, in six sports – Para athletics, Para swimming, judo, Para canoe, Para taekwondo and Para powerlifting.
Yerlan Suleimenov, Secretary General of the National Paralympic Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, was hopeful of an improved performance than Rio 2016 with their medal hopes resting on their taekwondoin, judokas and swimmers.
“At the Rio 2016 Games, the Kazakhstan national team won two medals, one gold and one silver. This year we expect to get at least three medals in Para taekwondo, judo and swimming, respectively. We have seen constant progress in skills, fitness and mental toughness in our Para athletes, and therefore we are proud and confident in their abilities to represent our country honourably at the Tokyo Paralympic Games,” said Suleimenov.
“Our goal is to show people that we are not giving up and are going to overcome this obstacle on the way of stabilising the situation in the whole world. I am very much looking forward to the journey to Tokyo Paralympic Games and making it a memorable and successful experience for our Para athletes and the broader team,” he added.
Gabidullina, who won the gold medal in women’s 100m freestyle at the age of 50, improving her own world record, will lead a team of seven swimmers with several others like Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games and European Open Championship champion Siyazbek Daliev, Yerzhan Salimgereyev, Asian Para Games 2018 champion, and World Championships silver medallist Roman Agalakov (SM13) keen to make a splash at the pools of the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
“The preparation for Tokyo 2020 has been amazing and we managed to accomplish all the things we were hoping to do. Thanks to the great management by NPC of Kazakhstan during the pandemic, we were given an opportunity to train and compete during the lockdown, following all the safety measures, so we won’t lose any precious time and physical form before Tokyo. We are currently at our best and hoping to achieve the highest medals,” said Gabidullina.
Added Daliev: “We are currently training hard and have our eyes on the trophy. We still need to work on a couple of things, but we will be ready once the time comes to leave for Tokyo. I can’t wait to see all my fellow Para athletes from Kazakhstan in Tokyo and together achieve the so long-awaited greatness.”
‘WE ARE READY FOR THE GAMES’
As Para taekwondo is set to make its debut at Tokyo, Kazakhstan would look to get their first Paralympic champion. Threefold world champion Nurlan Dombayev (К43), Nyshan Omiraly (К44), a two-time world champion and Kamilya Dosmalova (К44), Asian Championship winner, would be out to make their country proud in Tokyo.
“It may sound odd, but the Tokyo Paralympic Games could not come at a better time for us. We have used the additional year to refine our skills and improve our physical shape. We are more than ready for the Games and hope to make our supporters back home happy by winning the medals,” said Dombayev.
Other medal prospects include, powerlifter Koishybaeva (women’s up to 67kg), who would look to better the colour of her medal this time; and judokas Zarina Baibatina (+70kg) and Zhanbota Amanzhol (90kg).