ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s para-athletes won 10 gold, nine silver and 10 bronze medals at the 10th International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Junior Games, which took place at the U.K.’s Stoke Mandeville Sports Stadium from Aug. 3-8. Three hundred fifty athletes under the age of 23 from 35 countries gathered in Stoke Mandeville to compete in seven sports: archery, athletics, wheelchair racing, powerlifting, swimming, table tennis and wheelchair fencing.
“IWAS is pleased that we can return to Stoke Mandeville in 2014, where the 10th IWAS World Junior Games will revive the spirit of the International Stoke Mandeville Games,” IWAS Games Committee Chairperson Dina Sotiriadi said in a press release.
On the first day of competition, 14-year-old Yerassyl Soltangaliuly won two track medals: silver in the 400-metre distance and bronze in the 200 metres.
Eighteen-year-old Azizbek Torakulov took third place in the 800-metre distance on the second day, while 19-year-old Bakhyt Bekbai took bronze in the javelin throw.
Kazakhstan’s physically-challenged athletes are traditionally strong in swimming, and this competition was no exception. Dmitry Li, 18, won gold in the 100-metre freestyle event, the 200-metre medley and the 100-metre breaststroke and took silver in the 50-metre freestyle.
“I have been practicing swimming since I was six years old, but I did it to improve my health. I only started to practice it professionally when I turned 11,” Li said. “My first competitions in Almaty gave an impetus to my further development. Now, I cannot imagine what I would do instead of swimming. Swimming is my passion. I like to follow the results of my rivals and to compare my current results with past ones.”
“In my opinion, these Junior Games were successful for our team. A year has passed since the previous Asian Junior Games [and] our junior team has become stronger and more experienced, and thus our swimmers demonstrated good results. We proved that we are ready to compete with the strongest athletes at the Asian Para Games [in Incheon in 2014]” he underlined.
Vladislav Ligai, 16, won gold in the 400-metre freestyle and the 50-metre and 100-metre backstroke. In the 50- and 100-metre freestyle, he won silver.
Anastassiya Ogneva, 17, took the third place in the 50-metre backstroke; Leonella Burdina, 19, won the bronze medal in the 50-metre butterfly. Beksultan Zhanibektarkhan, 16, took bronze in the 50-metre backstroke and 50-metre freestyle events.
Yegor Bolinger, 20, a powerlifter from the Pavlodar region, won the silver medal in the under-88 kilogramme event. He also set three world junior records.
Eldana Baduova, 14, took first place in table tennis, while her partner from the team, Shynar Kenzhebayeva, 18, won bronze.
Kazakhstan’s junior para-team was supported by the National Paralympic Committee of Kazakhstan, the Samruk Kazyna National Welfare Fund and regional sports clubs.