Team Kazakhstan Takes 12th place in Gold Medals at London Olympics

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Special Issue No. 84, Aug 18, 2012

Kazakhstan came to the London Olympics well prepared. Before their departure to London, Kazakh athletes were received by President of Kazakhstan who said, "Our country has always had great results in sports. Last year alone our athletes won 15 medals at the various world sports events. Moreover, Kazakhstan won 32 gold medals at the Asian Winter Games last year. Your achievements are a powerful testimony to sports and a healthy lifestyle." He highlighted how athletes can promote Kazakhstan internationally. He said the Kazakh flag would be raised and its national anthem played every time a Kazakh athlete wins a medal.

The chairman of Kazakhstan’s Sports Agency Talgat Yermegiyaev said on the eve of the London Olympics that Kazakhstan’s national team aimed to win at least 13 medals, including at least three gold medals. The goal was to be among the 30 best national teams in the world.

In the event, Kazakhstan won 7 gold medals, 1 silver medal and 5 bronze medals, placing itself as the 12th best nation in the world when counting gold medal victories.

The next day after the official opening ceremony of the Games, Alexander Vinokourov won the first gold medal for Kazakhstan in the cycling road race. He had previously won two bronze medals at the World Championships, four stage wins in the Tour de France, four wins in the Vuelta a Espana, plus the overall title in 2006 and two Liege Bastogne Liege monuments, one Amstel Gold Race. Vinokourov is a past national champion of Kazakhstan and a dual-medalist at the Summer Olympics.

The second, third and fourth gold medals were won by Kazakh lady weightlifters Zulfiya Chinshanlo, Maiya Maneza and Svetlana Podobedova . Zulfiya Chinshanlo set a world record 131 kg (289 lbs) in the women's 53kg (117 lbs) clean & jerk and claimed the gold medal easily. Maiya Maneza won Kazakhstan's second weightlifting gold medal in London and set an Olympic record in the women's 63-kilogram category. Svetlana Podobedova won her Olympic weightlifting gold in the women's 75-kg division.

In addition, Ilya Ilyin , who is an Asian champion and a three-time world champion, won Kazakhstan’s fifth gold medal in men's 94-kilogram division at the London Olympic Games.

For Ilyin winning the gold medal seemed very easy. According to Associated Press , "Most lifters in the 94-kilogram class paused for a few seconds as they gripped the bar, collecting themselves for the excruciating effort of lifting one-fourth of a ton over one's head. Ilyin marched up to the bar with quick steps and hoisted it in the air so fast that by the time a ‘good lift’ was announced he was already celebrating."

He lifted 185 kilograms in the snatch and a world-record 233 kilograms in the clean and jerk for a total of 418 kilograms. That was also a world record, six kilograms better than the pre-competition mark set in 1999. "After the medal ceremony, Ilyin said he prepared for the Olympics with a special diet, including horse meat, a Kazakh delicacy," the Associated Press wrote.

Olga Rypakova won the 6th Olympic gold medal for the country with a leap of 14.98m in women's triple jump final. She beat her closest competitor by 18 cms. Kazakhstan had never before won a gold medal in track and field.

The final, seventh gold medal was brought home in boxing by Serik Sapiyev. He was also named the tournament’s best pound-for-pound boxer. According to Yahoo Sports Sapiyev said, "I have been waiting for this moment so long. In Beijing I lost in the quarter-finals and I was upset but I was dreaming about the next Olympics."

Kazakhstan's only silver medal was won by boxer Adilbek Niyazymbetov, who lost to a Russian in a very close match.

Kazakhstan's bronze medals were won by boxers and wrestlers: Ivan Dychko (Boxing, Men's super heavyweight), Marina Volnova (Boxing, Women's middleweight), Daniyal Gadzhiyev (Wrestling, Men's 84kg, Greco-Roman), Guzel Manyurova (Wrestling, Women's 72kg freestyle) and Akzhurek Tanatarov (WrestlingMen's freestyle 66 kg).

Kazakhstan has been traditionally strong in boxing, weightlifting, Greco-Roman and free-style wrestling and judo. Despite a population of only 16 million, Kazakhstan has done well compared to countries with larger populations. At the Beijing Olympic Games, Kazakhstan ranked 24th in medals out of 204 participating nations – a great achievement for such a young and small nation.

The London Olympics' showed that Kazakhstan is an emerging power in sports, as it ranked 12th place out of 204 participating nations: 4 gold in weightlifting, 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals in boxing, 3 bronze medals in wrestling, 1 medal in cycling and 1 medal in track and field.

Also, by the number of new records set during the Olympiad, Kazakhstan took the 4th place after the US, China and Russia.

Kazakhstan showed the world that it is one of the best countries in sports. The gold, silver, and bronze medals were a testament to the character of the nation. Upon their arrival from London, the winners have been cheered by sports fans and citizens as national heroes .
It is expected that the medalists will be honored at a celebratory ceremony in the presence of the President of Kazakhstan. Overall, the victory has led to the outburst of patriotic feelings, as the entire the nation is proud of its great Olympic achievements.