ASTANA – Government officials received an update on Kazakhstan’s preparations for participation in the upcoming 22nd Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia during a Dec. 5 meeting headed by Kazakhstan Prime Minister Serik Ahmetov.
Sports and Physical Culture Agency Chairman Tantanbek Yessentayev told officials that Kazakhstan will compete in six sports, including cross-country skiing, biathlon, freestyle mogul, speed skating, figure skating and snowboarding. So far, Kazakh athletes have claimed 10 Olympic slots in skiing events, 11 in skating and 10 in the biathlon.
Most of the Kazakhstan athletes that will participate in the Olympics are from eastern Kazakhstan, Akmola, Pavlodar, western Kazakhstan regions and the city of Almaty. They will be trained by 17 renowned coaches invited from abroad. Medical staff and physical trainers have also been hired to attend to the athletes during the upcoming games, he said. The national team’s uniforms will be supplied by the Almaty-based Zebra company.
The sports agency chairman also stressed that the goal of the national team is to improve upon its results from the Vancouver Olympic Games, in which it placed 25th overall, and that a special operations department had been created to prepare Kazakhstan’s athletes for the Sochi Games. Kazakhstan is hoping to break the top 20 in Sochi, he said.
Kazakh athletes have had a generally successful year in sports. They have already won more than 30 places in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and won many prestigious competitions in 2013. Most successful have been skiers, speed skaters and figure skaters. Figure skater Denis Ten earned the right to represent Kazakhstan in Sochi after winning a silver medal at the World Championships in Canada this year.
Kazakhstan’s national speed skating team also competed in World Cup events in Calgary, Canada and Salt Lake City, U.S., and members of that squad have been chosen to represent Kazakhstan in Sochi. Among those will be world champion Denis Kuzin, who finished fourth in the 1,000 metre distance in Calgary, setting a new national record.
“As for the other speed skaters, five members of the national team met international requirements and were put on the list of participants for the Olympic Games,” said speed skating national team coach Vadim Sautin.
Summing up the meeting, the prime minister noted that positive results in the Olympic Games are important because they reflect on the image of the nation and that Kazakhstan needs to work to ensure that its athletes are properly prepared. Akhmetov also said it was important for the nation’s press to cover the events and for the public to support Kazakhstan’s athletes.
The Feb. 7 – 13 Sochi Olympic Games are expected to attract more than 5,000 athletes from 80 countries who will compete for 98 sets of metals in 15 sports.