Astana Hosts International Wheelchair Dance Competition

ASTANA – Around 30 participants from Russia, Belarus, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, and Kazakhstan competed on the parquet of the Palace of Independence July 26-27, hoping to dance their way to the top at the 2014 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Wheelchair Dance Sport (WDS) Kazakhstan Open.

This WDS competition was the last licensing event on the road to the 2014 Incheon Para Games but the first wheelchair dance event held in Kazakhstan under the auspices of the IPC.

The panel of judges represented eight international adjudicators who arrived from Austria, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Honk Kong.

“We are glad to become part of this event. Astana is a very beautiful city with hospitable people,”said Diethard Goverkar, from Austria. “The Kazakhstan Open was the first but not the last competition in the country. We are looking forward to coming back to the wheelchair dance event in Astana again.”

The competition was opened July 26 by the Secretary General of the Kazakh National Paralympic Committee, Vassiliy Shimanskiy. In his opening speech, he thanked all the athletes and coaches for their participation and wished them all the best in pursuing their goals.

It should be mentioned that in WDS, couples dance in pairs of two wheelchair users (duo) and pairs of one wheelchair user with a standing partner (combi). Programmes include standard dances such as the waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, slow foxtrot and quickstep and Latin American dances such as the samba, cha-cha-cha, rumba, paso doble and jive.

IPC classifiers Yun–An Tsai from Taiwan and Gerda Nelles from Belgium arrived July 24 for international classification. International medical classification is a necessary step to ensure the honest assignment of athletes to classes.

According to Tsai, “Astana is a great city, which could be called a ‘museum of modern buildings.’ I am really impressed with the city and Kazakhstan.” Tsai also supports Kazakh paralympians striving to the international level of sports. “Kazakh athletes demonstrate great achievements in the world sports arena and I would like to wish them all success in the future,” he added.“Events like this wheelchair dance sport competition in Astana represent an opportunity to attract more people to sports, especially the physically-challenged audience. The paralympic movement in Kazakhstan is experiencing steady growth.”

Athletes with physical impairments that affect the lower limbs are eligible to participate in WDS, where there are classes one and two. Athletes are classified according to their functional abilities based on specific tests. During the weekend, pairs competed in two programmes, standard and Latina.

Kazakh athletes won their first gold medals on the first day of the event. Experienced athlete Ardak Otorbayev and his partner Aidana Beglenova were the best in the combi standard programme. This couple trains in Astana and has already achieved great success in international championships, such as the recent 2014 IPC WDS Asian Pacific Cup competition in Beijing, China.

The leader in solo Latina (class two) was a representative of Hong Kong, Wong Wo Chau, who beat four other competitors with his passionate performance.

Russian wheelchair dance couple Maksim Sedakov and Svetlana Kukushina took first place in the combi Latina (class two) event. The two have been dancing together since 2004 and have won seven championships in Russia, two silver medals at the world championships in Hannover (Germany) 2010 and Tokyo 2013 and took first place at the World Dance Olympiad in Platja d’Aro, Spain. They have also won the Continents Cup three times and have received prizes in international competitions in Germany, Ukraine, Poland, the Netherlands, Malta, Serbia, China and more.

Representatives of Chinese Taipei Kuo Wen Sheng and Huang Yijung were the winners of the duo Latina (class two) programme.

For Aigul Balmagambetova, theyoung talent from Karaganda born in 1990, this competition washer first experience in WDS and it was successful. Balmagambetova became the best in solo standard (class two), where she competed with five athletes for the gold.

“Regardless of my impairments I have been practicing dances since childhood, but only for myself. I received lots of positive emotions during the Kazakhstan Open. I am happy for the success of the Kazakh athletes who took part in this event. It was a big professional experience for me,” Balmagambetova said.

The winners in duo standard (class two) were local couple Ardak Otorbayev and Karlygash Tynabekova. This was their first competition as a couple. Tynabekova beganWDS only three months ago but she promises to become one of the leading athletes.

In the duo standard (class two) programme, a couple from Taipei wastheleader. The couple competed with athletes from Kazakhstan.

World champions, South Korean athletes Han Chang Woo and Ryu Jini were the winners of combi Latina (class one), competing with athletes from Belarus, South Korea and Hong Kong.

The top places in combi standard (class two) were taken by Marat Karakulov and Nargiz Akhmetova, representatives of Taraz in the south of Kazakhstanwho took third place andStanislav Sheshukov and Tatiana Skvortsova of Tyumen, Russia, who took second place. The leaders of the event were Vitaliy Morozov and Gulnaz Akbasheva from Tatarstan, Russia.

Summarising the results of the event, GulnaraMukasheva, administrative director of the Kazakh National Paralympic Committee,emphasized the role of international competitions for development of paralympic sports in the country. “The National Paralympic Committee received strong impetus in the development only recently. Nevertheless, we can already state that a lot has been achieved. Competitions approved by the International Paralympic Committee with the presence of foreign athletes and an international panel of adjudicators prove the successful strategy that our committee took.”

“I can say that Kazakh athletes are some of the leading athletes in the region. We are glad to have this opportunity to hold an event of such scale and importance for physically–challenged athletes and for the Kazakh paralympic movement. We are thankful for everyone who came and supported us. I would like to express deepest gratitude to the Kazakh Agency of Sports and Physical Training Affairs and to the National Paralympic Committee for all their support,” said Aliya Tussupbekova, president of the Modern and Sports Dance Federation.

The Kazakhstan Open was organised by the Agency of Sports and Physical Training Affairs, the Kazakh National Paralympic Committee and the Modern and Sport Dance Federation.

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