ASHGABAT IN EXPECTATION OF BIG SPORT
The upcoming Games promise to become the most ambitious sport event in the history of Turkmenistan. Having received in 2010 the right to host the Asiada 2017, the state began to work hard, so that the feast of sport took place at the highest level. The state authorities, local residents and international organizers do not spare money or energy for the event - the Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games will become the largest regional tournament of recent years. This large-scale event will attract attention to the state, and especially to its capital - the white-marbled city of Ashgabat that combines deep traditions of the past and cutting-edge technologies. We tried to analyse how the Turkmen capital will soon surprise its guests.
The official symbol of the Games 2017 is the Ahal-Teke horse, the national treasure of Turkmenistan. It is associated with speed, health and endurance. According to the organizers, all that is sport. The slogan of the competitions perfectly complements their symbol and sounds "Health. Inspiration. Friendship". Its roots go to the old tradition of the national Turkmen sports days with their motto "Turkmenistan is a country of health and high spirit". Other important mascots of the tournament are an ornament depicting ancient maps with Silk Routes that once passed through the modern territory of the state, and an alabai, a traditional Turkmen dog named Wepaly who is a popular folklore character. According to legends and fables, this dog is renowned as a beautiful and courageous animal that for many centuries has helped people safeguard flocks of cattle, protected houses and well-being. What is important, all the designs and their conceptual solutions were developed by local experts who drew their inspiration in the rich past of their country and its desire for a successful future, therefore national flags, symbols and images, "modernized" with creative design, are actively used as key motifs.
For each sport, the Games comprise 21 sports which is a record for indoor Games, designers have developed a unique logo, which is not just a fun picture, but also has informative properties about how athletes will compete. Among the most curious and unfamiliar to the wide audience types of sport are traditional in the region Turkmen wrestling, belt wrestling and 3000-year-old Uzbek martial art "kurash", which meaning is translated as "to reach the goal fairly", that is, to defeat competitor while remaining a gentleman. Moreover, not only muscles will be important in Ashgabat, competitions on "intellectual kinds" such as chess, billiards and bowling will be no less exciting. What is striking, for each of them a separate and unique arena was created. Special attention also deserve those sports that are not yet included in the official Olympic competitions - swimming in the short water (in the 25-meter pool), futsal and basketball three by three. Sports dancers, for whom 2 days of competition are allocated, will provide special aesthetics and artistry.
Since the Asiada 2017 has not started yet, it is difficult to calculate the final budget, but right now, we can safely say that it will be a huge amount, just the Olympic Village costs about $ 5 billion. The Turkish company Polimeks built it, and it is really worth the money spent, as stadiums, pools, cycling tracks and roofed arenas are literally crammed with facilities of innovative technology. Test "runs" of the infrastructure pleased not only the Turkmen, but also the sports experts of Asia, who recognized that the choice of Ashgabat, as the capital of the Asiada 2017, fully justified itself.
The main arena of competitions is the Olympic stadium designed by the British and accommodating 45 thousand fans. It will be a venue for the opening and closing ceremonies. Part of its magnificent facade was built in the shape of head of the already familiar Ahal-Teke horse. Immediately after the Games, the national football team booked it for its matches, and the show business stars have already noted the stadium as the intended location for the concert in Ashgabat. The next most important objects, roofed arena and cycling track, are impressive by both their capacious abilities to take 15 and 6 thousand of fans respectively, and the reasonable details - spectators and athletes will enjoy comfort, ergonomics of the premises and excellent service.
Spread out on 157 hectares, this "Olympic city in the city" is already very popular with the first tourists, who come here for special welcome tours. Looking at this giant and at the same time compact territory with artificial lakes, mini-parks and new arenas, you realize that Turkmenistan seriously intends to draw attention to itself, since all amenities were created not only for spectators, but also for athletes who have been testing the complex and are profuse in compliments. In total, about 30 sports facilities will function here, and in addition to them, there will be walking areas, parks, shopping malls, international hotels that will provide the adjacent areas with the necessary dynamics and development after the competitions. It is this part of the city that creates this image of the "new Ashgabat" that is inexpressible even by the best photographs, and it inspires by showing the image of the 21st century Central Asian metropolis.
In addition to the Olympic Village, the Turkmen capital can boast with other impressive projects built in recent years especially for the Games, and such "trivia" as the magnificent roads and modern stops with air conditioners, terminals, convenient public transport are taken for granted. We will be amiss not to mention the fantastically convenient monorail way which connects Olympic Village with other venues of Olympic Park. Launched in the test mode in spring of 2017, it already fascinated local residents who received such an important transport. In the context of Ashgabat, in addition to the transport function, it also performs a tourist function, because during trips, fantastic views of the "marble capital" are opened from its modern cars (this is not a beautiful word game, Ashgabat is included in the Guinness Book of Records as the whitest marble city of the world, more than 500 buildings were built from this material).
New urban pedestrian areas, bicycle paths, and ambitious plans for the construction of the subway deserve more attention. All this, together with ancient mosques, architectural monuments and palaces, makes the Turkmen capital an important city not only in terms of sport, but also for travellers, because the city excites immediately, even when approaching it, with its incredible brand new airport with carpet ornaments on the roof. This giant "bird" costs 2 billion Euros, it opened its doors (wings) in 2016, hitting almost all rankings of the best airports in the world.
Having received the right to host the 2017 Ashgabat Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games, the authorities of Turkmenistan began not only to actively build, but also do mentally important things, for example, they launched the national program "Health" providing for various events and campaigns aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles, and the year of 2017 was declared the "Year of Health and Enthusiasm". What is important, beautiful words about the importance of sport in human life are confirmed by real actions all-round the country. In recent years, sports facilities have been reconstructed throughout the country and various competitions were held at the national and regional levels; famous actors, musicians and politicians take part in their propaganda.
Of course, this is a long-term strategy, but there are some results: Turkmen athletes participated in the Olympic Games and have already collected many awards at other prestigious competitions around the world. The Asian Games are the apogee of the "Health" program, its culmination, but according to the authorities, it is not the end, but only one more incentive and a template of how the leaders see their entire country in the future. In general, international practice shows that hosting a branch of the Asian Games in the form of indoor competitions is an unspoken bid for the fact that in the future the country intends to compete for the right to become the host of the most significant sports tournaments, so the best is yet to come...
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