The upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia provide an opportunity for tens of millions around the world to cheer on their countrymen, a lifestyle of achievement for the athletes and the application of strategy and science for the coaches.
Kazakhstan had a lot to cheer about in the Summer Olympics of 2012 in London. Many spectators around the world, and even some Kazakhs themselves, were surprised that a country of only 17 million people was able to place 12th in the overall 2012 Olympic standings. But those results reflect a culture that values athletics and is actively working to promote healthy lifestyles in the country.
But that means there will be added pressure on the athletes representing Kazakhstan in Sochi. Sochi will host over 2,500 athletes, from more than 80 countries who will compete in 15 disciplines. In London, Kazakhstan was represented by 115 athletes in 20 disciplines. In Sochi, there will be half that many—only 58 in 11 disciplines. It will be difficult to match the seven gold medals Kazakhstan won in London, but it is going to try.
However, “making predictions is a (dangerous)thing,” according to Deputy Chairman of the Kazakh Sports Agency Elsiyar Kanagatov.”We have set a goal to do better than in Vancouver for our national team to win two different medals. After the achievements of Denis Kuzin, Alexey Poltoranin and Denis Ten on the world stage we think it is possible. Anything is possible at the Olympic Games and the devil is in the little things. It might turn out that an athlete is not psychologically ready for it. We are doing everything possible to avoid such nuances. I hope the upcoming Games will be a great one for us and we will accomplish everything we had planned,” he added.
Young figure skating hopeful Denis Ten won silver at the world championships in Canada in March 2013 is expected to contend for the gold medal in Sochi.
“I have learnt from every loss I have had. At the last World Championship, I lost in the short program. I have gained valuable experience and now see clearly where I need more work,” said Ten. “I will try to perfect my cons before Sochi and will even try to surprise.”
Ten will face some serious competition, however, such as Canadian Patrick Chan, who with the aid of his home field advantage, took gold in Canada and Russia’s top figure skater Yevgeny Plyushenko, for whom this is going to be the last Olympics.
In speed skating, Kazakhstan is betting on Denis Kuzin. Kuzin took gold for Kazakhstan for the first time in history in the World Championship in 2013 in the 1000-meter distance and again in 2014 in Japan at the same venue.
In skiing, Alexey Poltoranin, 27, enjoys the benefits of age and experience. He competed in Turino in 2006 and in Vancouver in 2010. Poltoranin took two bronze medals in Val Di Fiemme in 2013.
“Everybody has high hopes for me and bet on me. It pressures me psychologically. But I understand myself that I need to fight for medals, so I try not to pay attention to this kind of pressure. I will try to ski this season emotionally like the last,” Poltoranin commented on the threshold of Sochi.
On Feb. 4, Kazakhstan had the honor to raise the country flag in Sochi at 12 noon and over the next few weeks the country hopes to continue its Olympic success.
Kazakhstan’s 2014 Winter Olympics Team:
Skiing – Yerdos Akhmadiyev, Alexey Poltoranin, Nikolay Chebot’ko, Mark Starostin, Yevgeny Velichnko, Sergey Cherepanov, Denis Volotka, Roman Rogozin, AnastassiyaSlonova, Tatyana Osipova, Marina Matrosova, Yelena Kolomina, Anna Shevchenko, VIktoriya Lanchakova, Anna Stoyan.
Speed Skating – Denis Kuzin, Dmitry Babenko, Roman Krech, Alexander Zhigin, Fyodor Mezentsev, Ekaterina Aidova,
Figure Skating – Abzal Rakymgaliyev and Denis Ten.
Short-track – Aidar Bekzhanov, Nurbergen Zhumagaziyev, Abzal Azhgaliev, Artur Sultangaliyev, Denis Nikishin and Inna Simonova will compete in short-track.
Moguls – Dmitry Reikherd, Yuliya Galysheva and Darya Rybalova
Acrobatics – Sergey Berestovsky, Zhibek Arapbayeva and Zhanbota Aldabergenova
Biathlon – Dias Keneshev, Yan Savitsky, Sergey Naumik, Anton Pantov, Alexander Trifanov, Yelena Khrustalyeva, Marina Lebedeva, Darya Usanova, Alina Raikova and Galina Vishnevskaya.
Luge – Artur Baibachinov, Sergey Korzhnev, Yury Veselov, Ivan Makivchuk, Yelizaveta Aksenova and Tatyana Nevzorova.
Downhill – Igor Zakurdayev, Dmitry Koshkin, Martin Khuber and Yekaterina Cherepanova.
Jumping race – Sergey Sharabayev.
Snowboarding – Valeria Tsoy
Ski Jumping – Marat Zhaparov and Alexey Tchelintsev.