ASTANA – Kazakhstan athletes won 13 gold, seven silver and six bronze medals at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Games held Sept. 14–22 in Stadskanaal, Holland.Five hundred athletes from 35 countries, including 16 athletes from Kazakhstan, competed in a wide range of sports, including swimming and archery.
Kazakhstan swimmers Mikhail Eremenko (50m freestyle and butterfly stroke), Zulfiya Gabidullina (50m, 100m and 200m freestyle, 150m medley, 50m breast stroke), Ruslan Utebaliyev (100m backstroke), Vladimir Erman (100m freestyle) and Oxana Mityakova (50m butterfly) won gold medals.
Commenting on Eremenko’s achievements, his trainer and Kazakhstan Swimming Coach Vladimir Zagorodnyi told The Astana Times, “I am proud of his achievements, he is already an International Master of Sports. This time we had hoped to win even more medals, but the competition was tough, and he didn’t have enough time to relax after the previous race before he had to go on the next start.”
“We will continue trainings as soon as Mikhail recovers from this competition. In the future, we are looking to bring gold medals from the upcoming Asian Games and to win an Olympic bid to Rio 2016,” he said.
Almaty athlete Ravil Mansurbayev won gold medals in the two disciplines: the discus and shotput. Teammate Pavel Sidorchuk from Kostanai also achieved first place in shotput on the first day of the competition.
Silver medals in swimming went to Kazakhstan swimmers Zulfiya Gabidullina (50m backstroke), Alina Mikhailova (50m and 100m freestyle), Ruslan Utebaliyev (50m freestyle), Dmitry Li (100m freestyle) and Mikhail Eremenko (100m backstroke). A silver medal in shotput was also won by Kazakhstan athlete Irina Tyschenko.
Bronze medals were won by Kazakhstan athletes Ellina Baideldinova and Vladimir Erman (both 50m freestyle), Pavel Sidorchuk (discus throw), Alina Mikhailova (100m freestyle) and Amanat Kalkayev (long jump).
One of the games’ most noteworthy performances was by Kazakhstan athlete Zulfiya Gabidullina who competed in six disciplines and won medals in each, including four gold and two silver medals. She also set three new world swimming records in the 50 metres, 100 metres and 200 metres freestyle. Gabidullina is also the most decorated member of the delegation. She was born in 1965 and is a resident of Taraz in southern Kazakhstan. Gabidullina is an International Master of Sports of Kazakhstan in swimming. She has won medals at the 2011 IWAS World Games, Sharjah (UAE), the 2012 British International Disability Swimming Championships 2012, Sheffield, Great Britain and the 2013 International Championships in Esbjerg, Denmark. She is ranked among the top eight physically-challenged swimmers in the world and is the world’s fourth-ranked physically-challenged winner in the 50-metre freestyle. She is also ranked fifth in the 150-metre complex, fifth in the 100-metre freestyle and seventh in the 50-metre backstroke.
IWAS organizes World Games biennially. Previous Games were held in Bangalore, India in 2009 and in Sharjah, Dubai in 2011. The event’s 500 athletes and 200 trainers from countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Russia and Spain made this year’s games one of the largest sporting events ever held for physically-challenged athletes.
According to the IWAS website, “the IWAS World Games programme is particularly important to the Paralympic movement, ensuring a Games environment that will provide qualification opportunity in a wide range of sports.”
Participation of the Kazakhstan team in the games was supported by the National Paralympic Committee of Kazakhstan with financial support from the Samruk Kazyna National Welfare Fund.