Tag Archives: Sport

Kazakhstan Hands Wooden Spoon to Latvia

13 Oct

Kazakhstan pulled off a sensational victory in Riga last night to condemn Latvia to last place in their UEFA 2016  European Championship qualifying group.

Islambek Kuat’s 65th-minute goal was enough to see off the Latvians and ensure that Kazakhstan edged their former Soviet Union rivals on goal difference in Group A. The win was Kazakhstan’s first in this round of qualification matches and means it avoided the wooden spoon which is now in Latvia’s hands.

The Czech Republic headed the group followed by Iceland. Turkey also qualified for the finals in France next summer as the best third-placed  team. The Netherlands could only finish fourth in the group and will not be going to the finals.

The win comes at a time when Kazakhstan’s all-powerful Nazarbayev clan are sniffing around the national football federation. President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s grandson, Aisultan Nazarbayev, made his case for the top job in football in Kazakhstan in an interview with to Sports.kz last week citing his extensive soccer experience.

Aisultan Nazarbayev, the son of the president’s eldest daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva and Rakhat Aliyev, who committed suicide  in an Austrian prison cell earlier this year while on remand facing murder and kidnapping charges.  Aliyev was a former head of Kazakhstan’s football federation so Aisultan Nazarbayev would be following in his father’s footsteps if he gets the nod for the job.


Turkmenistan: The President who just keeps on winning

25 Sep

Kazaxia has received a dispatch from the future looking at the continuing sporting prowess of Turkmenistan’s very long-term potentate Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan – August 9, 2030 – With the first week of the 2030 Olympic Games in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat already over, the country’s all-powerful President has stunned the sporting world by single-handedly heading the medal table. Still more remarkable, the 73-year-old Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov wasn’t even a declared athlete and is half a century older than most of his competitors.
With gold medals already in a slew of equestrian and motor racing events, Berdimuhamedov appears also set to win gold in archery, shooting and swimming events. He only took part in these events on the spur of the moment at the insistence of the ecstatic crowds.
Yet the ever-modest president is dismissing the adulation his success has won him, particularly with the home crowds. ‘My competitors have put up a good fight and I have to applaud their wisdom in the way they competed,’ he told television audiences during a four-hour speech from the medal podium. The speech was followed by a four-hour ovation.
Track record
Berdimuhamedov’s sporting success appears to have begun soon after he became president of his gas-rich state back in 2007.
In April 2012, in one of his early notable successes, he came first in a time-trial challenge racing a Turkish-build Volkicar he was not even scheduled to be competing in. ‘While an event presenter introduced the president,’ The Associated Press reported, ‘he received a request nobody in Turkmenistan would be likely turn down. “Can I take part?” Berdimuhamedov asked.’
The president even took in his stride being thrown from his horse just after crossing the winning line in a famous horse-racing victory in April 2013. It turned out the 150 men in black suits who immediately ran to his assistance from all over the racing track were not needed as the president returned to claim his prize.
And as he won the 2015 Alfa Romeo cup, the state news agency reported breathlessly: ‘The cars fly, engines roar, the distance between them gets shorter and lengthens again on the bend, but then the Alfa Romeo No. 7 breaks away from its nearest pursuers and rushes forward, to victory!’
The 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games saw the President sweep the medals board, again to tumultuous applause from an audience that could barely contain its excitement as long as the cameras rolled.
The Turkmen state media were similarly ecstatic over Berdimuhamedov’s victory at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Andorra, and the 2021 Darts World Cup. A victory in the Scrabble Champions Tournament the same year was assured after a tense final, with the winning word ‘Arkadag’.


Almaty Wheels out Big Guns for Winter Olympics Bid

29 Jul

In the final push for the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, Almaty has unveiled its secret weapons to wow the International Olympic Committee – figure skater Denis Ten and …. volleyball player Sabina Altynbekova.

As the delegates gather in Kuala Lumpur ahead of the vote on 31 July, Almaty is pulling out all the stops in its fight to the death with Beijing to host the games. Denis Ten won bronze at Sochi in 2014 in the figure skating and has been a fixture of the city’s bid.

Volleyball starlet Sabina Altynbekova.is not such an obvious choice to promote the bid to host the world’s premier winter sports spectacle. However, she is famous in Kazakhstan and beyond for her looks as well as her abilities on the volleyball court.

She rose to prominence last year at the Asian Under-19 Championships in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei. Her looks prompted hysteria with a Taiwan newspaper giving over 10 pages to photos of the 18-year-old and depictions of her as an anime character.

Some observers have suggested that a new event –  ice volley – could be included on the list if Almaty’s bid is successful. Apparently,this ancient sport can be traced back to the times when the Scythians roamed the Eurasian steppe.


Kazakhstan: Kairat Face Troublesome Trip to Scotland in Europa League Draw

24 Jun

Almaty’s FC Kairat could face a gruelling 11,000 km roundtrip to Scotland after the draw was made for the Europa League qualifiers on 22 June.

If Kairat can overcome Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade over two legs, then a trip to the land of whisky and deep-fried Mars bars might be on the cards if St Johnstone can beat Armenia’s Aleshkert FC.

Kairat will be following in the footsteps of Shakhter Karagandy who made the trip to Scotland in 2013 to play Glasgow’s Celtic, only to lose 3-0. The result meant the miners lost 3-2 on aggregate. The defeat was blamed on UEFA’s ban on pre-match sheep sacrificing. Shakhter had slaughtered a shaggy black ram ahead of the first leg in Astana.

Almaty taxi driver and Kairat supporter, Samat, was confused when asked by kazaxia about the potential trip to Scotland. “Where’s that then?” he asked. “I’ve heard of England and Holland but what’s this Scotland?”

Many in Kazakhstan confuse what they refer to as the ‘lands’ – England, Holland, Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Poland, Iceland, Switzerland, Swaziland, Thailand and Greenland.

Kazakhstan Cool on Links with Georgia, Azerbaijan Football League

17 Apr

Could Kazakhstan be on the verge of joining forces with Georgia and Azerbaijan to form a trans-Caspian football league?

If reports from NEWS.am, an Armenian source, are to be believed then the Georgian Football Federation is about to submit plans to the Union of European Football Unions (UEFA) for a super league combining the leagues of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. It appears that the Armenians are not invited.

The report ends with a denial from the Kazakhstan Football Federation, announcing that it has no plans to join such a league. This is probably a wise move as the travel for away matches would be huge. If, for instance, FC Dinamo Batumi were to face Almaty’s FC Kairat, they would be looking at an 8,600 km round trip. Not a very attractive prospect for either the players or the travelling supporters.

An added complication would be the fact that Kazakhstan’s top division plays its football from March to November, while Georgia and Azerbaijan play in the winter months from September to May.

Alga Kazakhstan!

31 Jul

Team KZ has got off to a flying start at the London Olympics, picking up two gold medals in the first two days of competition.

Veteran cyclist Alexander Vinokourov crowned his chequered career with a gold in the men’s cycling road race, and teenage weightlifter Zulfiya Chinshanlo took gold in the women’s 53 kg class.

Vinokourov sprinted to victory in the 250 km road race, disappointing the home crowd who had been hyped up to expect British success. After taking the road race gold, Vino will take part in the individual time trial, before retiring form the sport at the top. A post at the head of the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation awaits Kazakhstan’s Mr Cycling after he hangs up his trouser clips.

The UK’s Daily Mail was particularly irked by Vino’s victory, calling him, somewhat uncharitably, “an unpopular former blood doping cheat from Kazakhstan” and labelling him a “nobody from Kazakhstan” in its headline.

Mail on Sunday Sport front page - "Nowhere man!"  #Olympics #tomorrowspaperstoday

It would seem to the curious world view of the Mail that cycling as a sport has only emerged in recent years, with Britain’s  success at previous Olympics and Bradley Wiggins winning this year’s Tour de France. But we should expect nothing less from the jumped-up little Englanders of the Mail.

In the weightlifting 19-year old Zulfiya Chinshanlo,  probably powered by kazy, lifted more than twice her body weight of 53 kg in the clean and jerk – where she hefted 131 kg , followed by a 95 kg lift in the snatch.

Team KZ is already well on its way to its target of three gold medals from these games, and the boxing and wrestling haven’t really got going yet so Kazaxia is hoping for more Team KZ success.

Kazakhstan holds Austria

12 Oct

Kazakhstan pressure Austria with a rare corner at the Astana Arena

Kazakhstan ended its Euro 2012 qualification campaign on a relative high-note as it held Austria to a 0-0 draw in Astana on 11 October. Coming on the back of a 4-1 thrashing in Belgium, Kazakhstan did well to keep a clean sheet against the Austrians who were fresh from beating Azerbaijan 4-1 in Baku.

New boss Miroslav Beranek can take heart from the team’s performance as it nearly snatched victory over a lacklustre Austria. The Kazakhs came closest to scoring with a header from Sergei Ostapenko that hit the crossbar in the 74th minute.

Kazakhstan still finished 3 points adrift of Azerbaijan at the bottom of group A. Attention now turns to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, although Kazakhstan face an uphill task as it is paired once again with Germany and Austria. With Sweden and Ireland also in the group, Kazakhstan’s best hope may be to overhaul the Faroe Islands and avoid the wooden spoon.

Kazakhstan: The Samuryk Flies Again

19 Jul

The Samuryk, a phoenix-like bird of Kazakh legend, is taking flight once again – this time in the form of the Samuryk Paragliding club, which meets in the hills above Almaty to evoke the spirit of this mythical bird.

A paraglider takes to the skies at Ush Konyr

Most weekends Almaty’s paragliding fans gather at Ush Konyr, which is located just outside the village of Shamalgan, to soar into the skies off the steep escarpment that towers above the plain that is home to Kazakhstan’s commercial hub. The site is famous across the former Soviet Union with paragliders and is home to many competitions in season.

The Samuryk and its nesting place play a key role in Kazakh mythology. One of the most famous landmarks in Astana is Bayterek, a 97m-tall observation tower built at the centre of its main drag. The glass ball at the top of the structure represents the Samuryk’s egg.

Bayterek, Astsna, Kazakhstan

According to legend, the Samuryk returned every year to lay its egg, representing the sun, in the upper branches of the tree of life known as Bayterek. This egg was then devoured by a dragon, symbolising the eternal rhythm of night replacing day and winter following summer.

Returning to the modern-day Samuryks, this summer will see various competitions taking place at Ush Konyr with it hosting stage 4 of the Russian Open Paragliding Cup 16-21 August, the Open Kazakhstan Championship 22-27 August, and the Open CIS Cup 28 August – 2 September. 

Rip-Off Kazakhstan

11 May

This is the first in an occasional series of Rip-Off Kazakhstan (ROK) awards made by Kazaxia to businesses in the country offering poor value-for-money.

Congratulations to Rakhat Fitness in Almaty – the first business in Kazakhstan to receive a ROK award.

With summer just around the corner, this fitness centre has decided to introduce a 50% price hike – previously a monthly 12-visit pass cost 17,000 tenge ($117), now it’s 25,000 tenge ($172) or around $15 per swim.

That might not seem too bad, but for that you are allowed 75 minutes a session to change, shower and swim, and that’s if you’re lucky and there’s room in the pool.

The 50-metre pool is currently under repair and is closed until 22 May so wannabe swimmers will have to fight it out with the water polo teams for a small slice of the 25-metre pool.

The owners can’t be short of a bob or two – the fitness complex was formerly owned by Rakhat Aliyev,  the former husband of Dariga Nazarbayeva, eldest daughter of  President Nursultan  Nazarbayev.  It is rumoured that many of his assets were transferred to his ex-wife, although who  owns the fitness centre is unclear.

Aliyev, who is now living in exile in in Vienna, Austria, was sentenced in absentia  to a 20-year prison term after being found guilty of running a crime ring, abduction, theft and extortion in 2008. In the same year he was sentenced to another 2o years by a  secret military court for

attempting to forcibly seize power, illegally receiving and divulging state secrets, running an organized crime group, theft and illegal possession of firearms, theft of state property and abuse of power

Aliyev was famed in Kazakhstan as a ruthless money-grabber and is seems his legacy lives on with the current owners of Rakhat Fitness continuing to coin it in.

Futsal Finals Come to Almaty

26 Apr

Baluan Sholak Sports Palace Almaty - venue for UEFA Futsal Cup finals 2011

Almaty will put itself on the map of international sporting events this weekend as it hosts the  UEFA Futsal Cup finals. It’s the first time ever that Kazakhstan has been chosen to host the finals of a UEFA tournament.

Local favourites Kairat Almaty will face off with Sporting Clube de Portugal on April29. Later that day SL Benfica, also from Portugal, will take on Italy’s  ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5. The winners of these two games will battle it out in the final on May 1.

Futsal is basically five-a-side football played in an indoor arena. The match consists of two halves of 20 minutes and unlimited substitutions are allowed at any time from a pool of 12 players.

Kairat are a force to be reckoned with in Futsal – it has made the semi-finals of this annual  tournament three times since 2006. Kazakh midfielder Dinmukhambet Suleimenov is confident that Kairat, which has eight Brazillians on its books, can use its home advantage and be crowned UEFA Futsal champions for 2011