The Kazakhstan national student team won five gold and six silver medals and secured third place in the overall standings at the Winter Universiade held Jan. 24 – Feb. 14 in Granada, Spain, while the event flag arrived four days later in Almaty, the next host, according to the official Universiade website www.granada2015.org.
The most notable member of the Kazakh national team was skier Anastasia Slonova, who won two gold medals and one silver. Biathlonist Alina Raikova and freestyle skiers Pavel Kolmakov and Yulia Galysheva also took gold medals, while mogulist Dmitry Reichardt and the mixed (female and male) biathlon and ski teams all earned silver medals.
The last medal for team Kazakhstan came in ice hockey, as the team was challenged by Russia, the heavy favourite at the tournament.
Russia gained an easy 2-0 lead in the first period and scored again in the third, while Kazakhstan managed to score only once to make it 1-3 and settle for silver.
As a result, Russia topped the medal count with 56 (20 gold, 18 silver and 18 bronze), followed by South Korea’s second-place total of 16 (five gold, nine silver and two bronze) and Kazakhstan in third. Other winter Olympic favourites included China, which took fifth place, and the USA in 12th, according to the event website.
As the country is deliberating the bid to hold the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Almaty, closing in on the world’s sports powerhouses is inspiring the nation’s athletic hopefuls and giving the country more chances to race for the privilege of hosting the largest winter sports venue on the planet. Yet despite the final decision of the International Olympic Committee, Almaty has already won the bid to host the Universiade in 2017 and the country has begun actively preparing for the event.
The Deputy Akim of Almaty Zauresh Amanzholova was impressed by the sports spirit of the Kazakh athletes. “We were observing our young athletes and saw their spirit of patriotism and professionalism,” she told www.sports.kz.
According to officials of the Almaty city administration, construction of the Universiade sites is due by summer 2016. All sites are aimed to be built with further practical use; for instance, the Olympic village would be used as a student dormitory after the games.