POINT OF STRENGTH
For the first time ever, Turkmenistan has hosted a World Championship. The extremely successful conduct of the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat last year confirmed the fact that Turkmenistan's sports infrastructure is entirely suitable for holding high-level competitions. Moreover, one needs to recall Turkmenistan's experience in holding the high-level international rally "Amul - Hazar 2018" this September. Now, there came up another sport test of the highest standard - the World Weightlifting Championship.
Representatives from about one hundred countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Oceania participated in the weightlifting competitions in Ashgabat in the period from October 28 to November 10. The total number of athletes reached nearly eight hundred people. They were accompanied by 300 coaches, 45 referees and doctors, 70 mass media representatives and more than one hundred staff of the International Weightlifting Federation, making it 1500 people in total. Weightlifters contested 201 medals, including 67 gold, 67 silver and 67 bronze.
The conduct of the Championship was facilitated by some 500 volunteers from the higher education establishments of Turkmenistan with experience in serving major international competitions, including the 2017 Asian Games. They passed many contests and tests to be selected as volunteers. Students speaking several foreign languages had an advantage. In addition to linguistic trainings, volunteers underwent training on the specifics of facilities and infrastructure of the Ashgabat Olympic Village, the history and key aspects of the country's modern development, traditions and culture of the Turkmen people as well as training on improvement of communication skills. As part of the preparations for the World Weightlifting Championship, volunteers were also provided with trainings related to the history of the national and international sports movements as well as the aspects of the large-scale preparatory work preceding the prestigious world championship. Volunteers also mastered some skills in sports medicine and interactive technologies. Representatives of the younger generation were entrusted with an honorable mission to give foreign athletes and numerous guests every attention in the traditions of Turkmen hospitality and openness and make comprehensive presentation of the country, its history, culture, customs and modern achievements.
At all events of the Championship, athletes and guests were provided with proper medical and transport services and meals. Four big shopping centers located in the Olympic Village worked around the clock during the competitions. An official website was launched in Turkmen, English and Russian languages. Other than that, the Championship was covered by Russia 24, Match TV, Euronews TV channels and television channels of 145 countries.
In total, 5 thousand participants and organizers of the Championship were accredited. The Ministry of Sport and Youth Policy and the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan joined efforts to organize a festive opening ceremony of the World Weightlifting Championship.
The subsidiary enterprises of the Ministry of Textile Industry of Turkmenistan produced about seven thousand suits and accessories for athletes and guests of the World Weightlifting Championship. The clothing collection for the championship participants consisted of six sets, such as uniforms for the national weightlifting team, volunteers, competition organizers, medical personnel, media representatives and technical staff. Doping control officers wore T-shirts with the emblem of the Championship.
The outfit was made of light mixed and cotton fabrics, as well as knitted fabrics. Fans from different countries were not forgotten. Turkmen textile workers produced many gift sets for them, including polo shirts, T-shirts, bags with the symbols of the 2018 World Weightlifting Championship.
The tournament was preceded by the Congress of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) at "Sport" hotel in the Ashgabat Olympic Village. It discussed topical issues related to the further development of weightlifting and the importance of the World Weightlifting Championship in Turkmenistan. The congress participants included the Presidents of the IWF and the Olympic Council of Asia, heads and representatives of the committees of the international and national weightlifting federations from more than 80 countries, such as the USA, Russia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Hungary, etc.
In his opening remarks, President of the IWF Tamas Ayan stressed that the current World Championship was a turning point in the history of weightlifting. He thanked President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for his attention to development of physical culture and high-performance sports, making it possible to hold the 2018 World Weightlifting Championship in Ashgabat that will be written in gold letters in the history of international sports.
The introduction of new bodyweight categories and athlete selection criteria for the Olympic Games were among the key topics discussed by the Congress of the International Federation of Weightlifting. As is known, 10 new bodyweight categories for men and women were introduced for the first time at the Ashgabat tournament. In this regard, the main objective of the IWF is to develop such a system that would, above all, provide for health protection of weightlifters. The congress participants made reports on issues related to maintaining healthy competition in this sport and presented their analysis of the IWF Medical Committee work, focusing on the topic of anti-doping control.
As is known, Turkmenistan cooperates with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to preserve the purity of Turkmen sport and implement anti-doping measures. Under the Law "On Physical Culture and Sport" Turkmenistan actively works to prevent the use of illicit drugs. Turkmen athletes, coaches and medical personnel have always advocated clean sport, and they maintained a decent reputation for fair victories at the 2018 World Weightlifting Championship. Thanks to the measures implemented at President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's initiative on development of the mass physical culture movement and high-performance sports, the healthy life-style in Turkmenistan has become a national idea that unites people, helping to create favorable conditions for the harmonious development of society.
According to President of the International Weightlifting Federation Tamash Ayan, the 2018 World Weightlifting Championship will go down in history as an outstanding sport event in all respects. He spoke about this at a colorful opening ceremony of the 2018 Weightlifting Championship. On the outcomes of the tournament, he also shared his opinion on the level of organization of the World Weightlifting Championship:
- This is my second visit to Ashgabat. My first visit was to attend the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. Turkmenistan and Ashgabat especially impress me more and more every time I come here. I am talking about the stadiums and their sports equipment and comfortable hotels. All the conditions are so perfect that they open up the greatest possibilities for holding large-scale international sport events.
At the same time, I would like to express my sincere admiration for the tremendous work conducted by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on development of sports and also to convey words of deep gratitude to the distinguished leader of the Turkmen people for inviting our friendly family of weightlifters from different parts of the world to this wonderful country, for creating perfect conditions for the successful conduct of such a complex event as the World Weightlifting Championship. Owing to such hospitality and friendly attitude, we do not have any difficulties that such large-scale events are normally associated with.
This World Weightlifting Championship is especially important for us, as we have recently approved new bodyweight categories for men and women, as well as Olympic bodyweight categories at the Congress of the International Weightlifting Federation. In Ashgabat, about eight hundred athletes from hundreds of countries of America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania tried their hand at the first qualifying stage for the Olympic Games.
Outstanding athletes from many countries of the world showed unprecedented enthusiasm and desire to participate in the World Weightlifting Championship in Ashgabat and get a coveted pass to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The composition of participants for the Championship is very impressive both in quantitative and quantitative terms, as well as in terms of geographical coverage. Let us look at the statistics over the last five years at least. About 800 athletes from 100 countries came to Turkmenistan in comparison to 315 athletes from 54 countries at the World Weightlifting Championship in Poland in 2013.
We all were literally shocked to see such a great reception in Ashgabat. Everything is delightful, including grandiose sports complexes of the Olympic Village with all amenities for both athletes and spectators. I especially want to mention the organization of catering, as the menu offered the environmentally friendly and healthy food for different tastes, which, of course, helped the championship participants achieve high results. In addition, meeting the good-natured, responsive and very hospitable Turkmen people brought us positive emotions.
The high-level events such as the World Weightlifting Championship produce a great impression on the audience, especially children. I believe that boys and girls will take to the weightlifting sections of Turkmenistan. It is exactly for this purpose that we organize competitions, including this World Weightlifting Championship to draw the young people's attention to sports, particularly to weightlifting, to stimulate interest among the younger generation in regular athletic activities. Sport is very important, especially in our time. I believe weightlifting is a key sport. After all, when preparing for competitions, weightlifters engage in various sports, developing one or another skill.
I read very instructive works by the President of Turkmenistan, and I am impressed with what he does for development and large-scale promotion of sport. It is extremely important for the health of the nation. One does not need to become a professional, strive for the Olympic Games and fight for medals. Sport helps to achieve success in any other kind of activities. I absolutely share President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's opinion, who by his personal example inspires compatriots to a healthy lifestyle, that the government of any country should purposefully support development of sports, as Turkmenistan does, where sport has become a truly national idea.