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Kazakhstani weightlifters start training for next Olympiad
Athletes and coaches hope to build on momentum from the London Olympics with even more victories in Rio.
By Gulmira Isakova
ALMATY – Kazakhstan's national weightlifting team, which posted outstanding results during the London Olympics in August, is determined to move toward still greater achievements, with athletes already gearing up for the next Olympiad.
The next test is the Kazakhstan Cup, which will take place in Kyzylorda from late November through mid-December. That tournament will be a kind of "readiness test, whereby specialists will assess the degree of weightlifters' preparedness and competitiveness in all the weight categories," national weightlifting team coach Aleksei Ni told Central Asia Online.
And afterward, coaches and organisers plan to compile a final national team list and begin training for the next Olympiad, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, where the team hopes to build upon the foundation it set in London. Of the 13 medals won by Kazakhstan in London, four were weightlifting golds. The country of 16m ranked 12th in the medal count.
Kazakhstan will not count on foreigners and already established Kazakhstani athletes alone, Ni noted.
Kazakhstani junior teams (under 17) recently won a gold, two silvers and a bronze at the world weightlifting championship in Slovakia, he said. "This shows we have a really impressive potential,” he said. “And the fact that we have a world junior champion, Zhazira Zhaparkul, speaks for itself; so our potential is high indeed."
That Kazakhstani weightlifters are doing fairly well in all age groups is an indication that the country is capable of producing quality athletes, but a programme needs to be in place to encourage, discover and train them, Ni said.
"I am certain more athletes like Ilya Ilyin (holder of two Olympic and three world championship titles) can be found in Kazakhstan,” he said, referring to the athlete who has won two Olympic and three world championship titles. “But this requires making weightlifting a mass sport."
The country should build a training centre in each oblast and to install appropriate work-out equipment, Ni said, adding that, "The rest will be done by the coaches and athletes themselves."
Hard work is key, Ilyin says
London Olympic champion Ilya Ilyin, who modestly protested against being called "a natural," said his "secret" is his hard work.
"Really hard and exhausting training, my consciousness and internal state, my world view, my energy potential, the physical qualities granted to me by the Almighty and the character dating back to childhood, the environment where I grew up and the people surrounding me -- all those factors made possible how today’s Ilya Ilyin turned out," he said. "I like my job, put my soul into it and like to see people rejoicing when I hoist the weight."
Ilyin had won in Beijing, too, but with a "very different" feeling, he said.
"The Ilyin of 2008 and Ilyin of 2012 are totally different individuals,” he said. “(In China), too, I'd been a strong and well-trained man, and I'd won there too – but in a different way from how I did in London. My London victory was much purer, clearer and more vivid. And it included setting world records.”
"In London,” he continued, “I exerted myself to the limit, showing everything I've learned in my 24 years.”
Marat Zhakypin, 14, who trains in Shymkent, dreams of a bright future in weightlifting, too. He idolises Ilyin.
"I dream of achieving such success someday," he said. "This country is doing a lot to develop weightlifting, and I dream of someday representing our country with honour in future international competitions."