As Baku 2017 comes to an end athletes focus on preparation for Ashgabat 2017
25 May, 2017 (15:49)
A magnificent closing ceremony brought the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games to an end in Baku. The celebratory mood best reflected the success of the 12 days of competition, involving 54 countries, staged in the capital of Azerbaijan - a perfect warm-up for the forthcoming 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
Five of the top ten countries in the Baku medal table hailed from Asia, meaning that among the stars that lit up the two weeks of competitions in Baku are many athletes who will be competing in the jamboree taking place in Ashgabat in September, when the finest sportsmen and women in Asia will compete for continental glory.
With a calendar full of martial arts, all eyes will be on Iran’s fighters. The Islamic Republic was the leading Asian country in the Baku medal table, courtesy in particular of its domination in the wushu events, where it only missed out on the Men’s 48kg event – a tournament in which no Iranian athlete took place. Wushu may not be in the programme in Ashgabat, but the Iranians’ prowess in wrestling and other fighting disciplines will make them strong contenders for honours.
Similarly, if strong performances at the Islamic Solidarity Games is an early indicator of success, Bahrain will be looking forward to competing at the sharp end in the Indoor Athletics this coming September. The gulf state signed off from the track with 11 gold medals and will look like the team to beat when competition comes to Ashgabat.
The eyes and hearts of the home crowd, however, will be firmly on the strong home contingent. Turkmenistan finished a solid 15th in the medal table, with two gold, four silver and seven bronze medals: with the home advantage likely to play a big factor, much is to be expected of the local athletes in Ashgabat.
Weightlifting Polina Guryeva, who claimed gold in Baku, will spearhead her country’s charge for medals alongside silver medallist Gulnabat Kadyrova; among the names Turkmenistan will rely on is the country’s 2016 Olympic Games’ flagbearer, Merdan Atayev, who finished the Baku Games as the most decorated Turkmen athlete, thanks to two silver medals in swimming, and a strong wrestling line-up.
With fewer than 120 days now to the start of the Games, it’s time for the fans to rally behind the team!
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