ASTANA – The year 2014 was full of memorable sports stories involving Kazakh athletes. The Astana Times has chosen a few to highlight for our year-end sports review.
Gennady Golovkin Stays Undefeated in 2014
The undefeated reigning World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Organisation (IBO) middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, 32, continued his streak in 2014 by dropping Osumanu Adama in the seventh round on Feb. 1. He then knocked out Daniel Geale in the third on July 26 and finally stripped Marco Antonio Rubio of the interim World Boxing Council (WBC) champion title on Oct. 18 by a technical knockout in the second round. Golovkin has a 90 percent knockout ratio, which is the highest in the middleweight division’s history. He has 31 wins, 28 by knockout, and is on an 18-KO streak to date. He is to face Martin Murray on Feb. 21, 2015 next.
Denis Ten Wins Bronze in Sochi
The Olympics in Sochi 2014 didn’t turn out exactly the Kazakh way due to immense pressure after the success in the London Summer Olympics in 2012, where Kazakhstan brought home seven gold, one silver and five bronze medals and finished 12th overall in the medals tally. This time with less events to compete in Kazakhstan only managed to get one bronze medal. But it was the one medal that had turned a new page in Kazakh sports as it was the first bronze in country’s history at figure skating, as the 21-year-old Denis Ten watched the Kazakh flag rise from the podium on Feb. 13.
Ilya Ilyin Becomes Four-Time World Champion, Breaks New Record
At the Nov. 15 World Weightlifting Championship in Almaty two-time Olympic champion, Kazakh weightlifter Ilya Ilyin, 26, defeated his opponents by totalling 432 kilogrammes overall (190+242) to win the championship. Ilyin set a new world record and won his fourth world championship.
Astana PRO Team Wins Tour de France
Astana Pro Team’s Vincenzo Nibali became the sixth man in history and the first Italian since 1998 to win all three of cycling’s major tours as he secured a victory in this year’s Tour de France on July 27. Nibali wore the overall leader’s yellow jersey for all but two stages of the race after its first day. He also won four of the race’s 21 total stages, the most for a tour winner since the U.S.’s Lance Armstrong won five in 2004. He eventually finished an impressive seven minutes and 52 seconds ahead of the race’s runner-up, the tour’s biggest margin of victory since 1997.
Asian Games Cements Kazakhstan’s Status as Sports Powerhouse
Kazakh athletes yet again cemented their position as an Asian sports powerhouse during the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Kazakh athletes broke 14 world records and 28 Asian records at the events in the country of “Morning Calm.” The most memorable were of weightlifter Zulfiya Chinshanlo in the weight category 58 kilogrammes. She set a new world record in the clean and jerk (132 kilogrammes). Swimmer Dmitry Balandin won gold in three distances (50, 100, 200 metres breaststroke). The women’s national team of Kazakhstan in shooting scored 203 points and broke the record for the national team of China (201 points) in teams events. In general, the Kazakh national team won 28 gold, 23 silver and 33 bronze medals, a total of 84 medals breaking all previous records in the history of the country’s participation in the Asian games.
Zarina Diyas Makes the WTP Top 50
Almaty born tennis player Zarina Diyas saw 2014 as her breakthrough year in her career. On Nov. 10, she managed to climb the World Tennis Association (WTA) rating and clinch the 33rd spot, where she is still ranked. In August, she showed her best result in Grand Slams at the U.S. Open as unseeded Diyas advanced to the third round but lost to 17th seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia. Diyas has won five singles titles on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) tour to date and is very ambitious about 2015.