As Kazakhstan seeks to win its first medals at the 2018 Olympic Winter games with a bronze in the individual moguls, 45 other athletes on the Kazakh Olympic team are aiming for success in nine events.
(pictured top left: Kazakh speed skater and Olympic Flag Bearer Abzal Azhgaliyev)
Overall, Kazakhstan has 57 licenses in these games, including 10 in biathlon, three in figure skating, 12 in short track, 12 in speed skating, seven in cross-country skiing, four in freestyle moguls, five in freestyle acrobatics, two in alpine skiing, one in springboard jumping and one in skiing.
Kazakhstan short-track skater Abzal Azhgaliyev was the county’s flag bearer and is serving as captain of the Kazakh team.
“This is a great honor for every athlete, and I am very glad and proud that I was the one who was trusted to carry the flag.” he said.
But it was freestylist Yuliya Galysheva who captured Kazakhstan’s first medal in these games with a bronze in the individual moguls.
“This medal is the achievement of the whole Kazakhstan. Once again, I want to thank all the fans who supported me,” she said.
Galysheva finished 11th at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, won the Meribel World Cup in the final of dual moguls. She also won at the 2011 Asian Winter Games. Last year, she won a gold medal in moguls at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Freestyle Ski World Cup stage in China.
While some pundits have not given Kazakhstan much attention in these games, the Kazakh public is watching closely and believes in its athletes. Kazakh athletes won 129 medals including 37 gold, 38 silver and 54 bronze medals at recent championships, world cups and other international competitions in the 2016-2017 season.
Nationwide Kazakh media coverage is underway to support Kazakh athletes. An Olympic diaries programme was launched on the TV channels. News reports from the World Cup stages are broadcast daily. News agencies provide daily information related to the games. Two TV channels are broadcasting live from the Olympic Games. About 150 live broadcasts are planned.
“The Olympic Games is a celebration of peace and friendship between peoples. It proves that there is no limit to human capabilities. The White Olympics in PyeongChang will not be an exception. We will believe and hope for our team. And let the strongest win,” read a press release from Kazakh Olympic officials.
The Kazakh national skating team in addition to Azhgaliyev, includes Nurbergen Zhumagaziyev and Denis Nikisha. Female skaters include Kim A. Jong and Anastasiya Krestova, Elizabet Tursynbayeva and Aiza Imambek.
Tursynbayeva, 17, was recognized as the best young athlete in 2017 by the National Olympic Committee. Yuri Guskov is also representing Kazakhstan as an International Skating Union (ISU) judge.
Leader of national skiing team Alexey Poltoranin recently won the 15-km classic competition at the FIS Cross-Country World Cup stage in Slovenia. Poltoranin is the only athlete from the men’s team, who won the qualifying competition for PyeongChang. The 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang will be his fourth Olympics.
“I think Alexey has perfect opportunities. He has gained experience, learned to lose with dignity and overcome the great pressure he suffered sometimes,” said 1994 Olympic champion Vladimir Smirnov.
The national biathlon team is Kazakhstan’s largest one at these games. It includes 10 athletes, five men and five women. Women’s team leader Galina Vishnevskaya, 23, made history when she and Maxim Braun won the first third place in the single mixed relay at the International Biathlon Union’s (IBU) World Cup stage in Sweden Nov. 26, 2017. She enters the IBU Cup top 30.
The athlete from the East Kazakhstan region won the junior world championship, six medals at the Asian championship, four gold medals at the Asian Games and five medals at the world student competitions.
“All this excitement and my recent results give me strength and confidence that I not only can win in relay, but also in individual race. I know the route well in South Korea… Winning in biathlon is a kind of miracle. The work we did with my coach should bring the results. We worked hard and now I think that I can do everything,” Vishnevskaya said in a Jan. 24 interview to Sports.kz.
She finished 64th in the sprint, 41st in the individual race, and 12th in the relay race at 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The Olympic Games will last until Feb. 25 and feature 2,900 athletes from around the world competing in 15 sports.