NUR-SULTAN – Kazakh track and field athlete and flag-bearer Olga Rypakova amazed the viewers of the 2020 Summer Olympics (Tokyo 2020) opening ceremony on July 23. With her stunning hand-embroidered outfit and charming personality, she was recognized as the main stand-out character at the ceremony.
International fans from Japan, Korea, China, and other countries left their compliments and positive reviews about Olga’s fascinating appearance on the official social media accounts of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Kazakhstan.
Some of their comments on Twitter and Instagram read, “Princess”, “Gorgeous”, “Goddess”, “Beautiful”, The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” Some people added that Olga and her beautiful face reminded them of the famous Japanese computer game character – Lunafreya Nox Fleuret from Final Fantasy XV.
Many Korean fans wrote that “no matter how far away and different we are culturally-wise, we still see everything with the same eyes (the same way),” commenting on Olga’s natural beauty and her amazing costume. International fans also shared encouragement for athletes of the Kazakhstan team and expressed their desire to visit Kazakhstan someday.
Olga Rypakova is a London Olympic Champion and a prominent track and field athlete. Born in Ust-Kamenogorsk, she switched from heptathlon to triple jump in 2007 and began with great success after scoring two golds at the 2007 Asian Athletics Championship and 2007 Summer Universiade.
This year, following the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee to maintain gender equality and gender-based balance, for the first time each participating country was represented by two flag bearers – both male and female. The NOC announced that since two flag bearers would become the “faces of Kazakhstan” they wanted costumes to represent the authenticity of the nation’s culture and attract the attention of international viewers from all around the world.
Olga was wearing a silk long-sleeved white dress and a traditionally styled jacket – a camisole made from organza and hand-stitched with embroidery thread, beadwork, rhinestones, and sequins. Another flag-bearer Kamshybek Kunkabayev’s outfit included pants and camisole made from wool blend fabric and a hand-embroidered headscarf.
These two costumes were designed and sewed by a famous fashion designer from Almaty, Violetta Ivanova. Art and craft specialists of the Kasteyev State Museum of Arts were consulting the designer on decorations, the symbolism behind the national ornaments, and the traditions around their applications.
“This particular project was very demanding and it had to be done on short notice, yet my team and I decided to take it on anyway since my long-awaited dream was to create a collection of Kazakh costumes with a contemporary interpretation. I am in love with Kazakh ornaments (traditional patterns) and I’ve wanted to share their beauty with the world, and the creation of such costumes is a good chance to do that,” said Ivanova. “My inspiration is the idea that our national art deserves to be respected, it’s beautiful, can be up-to-date, and we have lots to show to the world and we can definitely become fashionistas. The very first impression after looking at the costumes is that you see two birds, two swans – both birds of happiness.”
After a fitting, Olga said, “costumes are unique, modern, and traditional at the same time. They are haute couture masterpieces made by true professionals, to whom I cannot help but convey my sincere gratitude.”
However, Olga’s reaction to her sensational appearance on social media was slightly different from her fans’ expectations. She said “in fact, I am not particularly thrilled about it nor have I overreacted to it as much. It seems, our costumes and images caught the attention of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese viewers somehow. They compared us to some characters from computer games, and because of that they reacted with such enthusiasm. For me, it was all a bit beyond my understanding rather than not expected at all.”
She also stressed that her main goal is to perform well at the Olympics.
“I would like to represent our country with dignity, to show a worthwhile result, and not only be recognized as the flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony”.
Olga wished good luck to all the athletes and concluded, “I wish people from our homeland would support us emotionally and spiritually. Your support is essential. Please root for us. Together we can reach for the stars. Biz birgemiz (We are together).”
Kazakhstan wins its first Olympic medals
As the Olympic Games continue, Kazakhstan already has two bronze medals in its bucket. Yeldos Smetov, 28, who competes in the under 60-kilogram weight division, took the bronze medal after beating Tornike Tsjakadoea of the Netherlands. Smetov is a silver medalist from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Kazakhstan’s weightlifter Igor Son also won a bronze medal on July 25 with 294 kilograms total (131+163).
“I had never lifted such a weight before Tokyo. It turns out that this was the best result I’ve ever had in a competition. There was a TV in the warm-up room, where I watched the performance of other athletes. When my opponent dropped the barbell, the excitement still lingered. Because everything is to be expected. Personally, I’m rather good at snatch in competitions, better than in clean & jerk,” said Son, as quoted by the National Olympic Committee.