Kazakh Freestyle Wrestler Fights for Success

ASTANA – The name of Akzhurek Tanatarov, the 29-year-old freestyle wrestler from Zhambyl region, is now known far beyond Kazakhstan’s borders. The athlete gained world fame when he won the bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Photo credit: ztgzt.kz

Photo credit: ztgzt.kz

His high athletic achievements in the international arena were the result of countless workouts which began almost 20 years ago. Engaging in the sports world was something Tanatarov loved with all his heart. The success he has achieved is largely thanks to his teacher Shokan Nadyrbekov, who trained a number of successful athletes including Olympic medallist Islam Bairamukov. The silver medallist at the2000 Games in Sydney, Bairamukov was the first person to note Tanatarov’s talent and insisted the boy continue with sports.

Tanatarov achieved his first success in 2003 winning the grand prize in the young men’s championship in Kazakhstan. He never descended from the pedestal of the national championships and tournaments, as his name was always among the list of winners. Five years after his first gold medal, the promising young athlete went under the guardianship of proven coach Adilet Sarybayev. Success did not make Tanatarov wait too long and he regularly began winning awards.

The wrestler has many titles. His achievements include seven-time Kazakh champion, winner of the 2011 Kazakhstan Cup, bronze medallist in Iran’s Takhti Cup and winner of the French young athletes’ international tournament.

His performance at the international Asian tournament in Astana in the up to 66 kg weight category added another silver to his collection and allowed him to take part inthe London Games.

For his achievements in the international arena, Tanatarov was awarded the title of Merited Master of Sports of Kazakhstan, as well as received the Order of Kurmet (Honour).

On the advice of experts, Tanatarov took a long break after the Olympics to recover and was not visible for almost a year. Some changes were made in the weight categories during the period and the athlete had to adjust to the new standards. He decided the74 kg category was appropriate and challenging.

Tanatarov participated in the new classification in 2013 at the world championship in Hungary, but did not succeed. He adjusted and won several international tournaments over the next two years, such as the victory which ended his performance at the regular tournament in Taraz. Tanatarov took gold at the Munich tournament and won bronze at the international tournament in Iran.

Taking part in two major competitions, he injured his legs and he underwent two surgeries. He fully recovered and now trains in Almaty with Honoured Coach of Kazakhstan Baurzhan Nurmakhanov.

Unfortunately, Tanatarov failed to gain the needed weight this year for the Rio Games. He has set a goal to perform in December at the world championship for athletes in his category in Turkey.

As for next year, Tanatarov plans to try a new sphere ­– ultimate fighting.

Tanatarov is known as a goal-oriented and strong-minded yet kind and modest person. He is also the deputy director of Almaty Schoolchildren’s Palace and he and his wife have a son and daughter.

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