Double glory for four at the Central Asian Short Course Swimming Tournament
Local hero Merdan Atayev and Kyrgyzstan’s Kristina Panasenko, Vladislav Shuliko and Stanislav Karnaukhov were in the spotlight on the second and final day of the Central Asian Short Course Swimming Tournament in Ashgabat on Thursday.
The “Fantastic Four” repeated yesterday’s feat and each won their second individual medal at the tournament in front of more than 4,000 spectators at the Ashgabat Olympic Complex Aquatics Centre.
Atayev was again a class of his own in the shortest distance of the backstroke style, the 50m. The 1.99m swimmer was not the quickest out of the blocks, but with his massive strokes he outlasted the field finishing in 25.59, a new national record.
Thirty minutes later Atayev swam an outstanding first leg for Turkmenistan in the 4 x 100m Medley Relay and with 54.53 he further lowered the national best in the 100m Backstroke he beat only yesterday. His remarkable performance was enough for second place for the host country in a close fight that saw the Iranians touching the wall first in 3:55.28.
A delighted Atayev said: “I honestly didn’t expect to get a better time today. The spectators really gave me a big push. I can’t be more satisfied with my results in the tournament. I will keep on working hard and hopefully better times will come.”
Butterfly specialist Vladislav Shuliko saved the best for last in the 100m, after a slow 1:01.01 clocked in the morning heats, which sent him to the outside lane (eight) in the final. Despite this, the 17-year-old Kyrgyz was never really threatened throughout the whole final, and scorched his way to another gold medal, finishing in 54.99.
“I saved myself in the morning, because I wanted to push hard in the final. I don’t mind swimming from the outside lane. Michael Phelps did it in Rio and he won. I would like to thank the crowd for their support. It was a fantastic experience competing in this state-of-the-art venue.”
Kristina Panasenko’s win in the 100m Breaststroke was dramatic. Uzbekistan’s Guzal Sobirova kept on pushing her, but the Kyrgyz beat her to the wall. A scant 0.16 hundreds separated the two athletes, with Panasenko registering the fastest time (1:16.55).
“Today’s win was a hard-fought one. I swam way out of my usual standards, but fortunately it was enough for victory.”
Stanislav Karnaukhov surprised even himself with his victory in the 50m Freestyle, which came 24 hours after his triumph in the 100m.
The fastest athlete of the tournament, he said: “I didn’t expect to win both events. The atmosphere in this fantastic facility was great. I have enjoyed my stay here in Turkmenistan in this beautiful city full of friendly and warm people.”
Turkmen Olympian Darya Semyonova didn’t rest a moment, taking part in all four women’s events. She added three more medals to her tally, a bronze in the 100m Breaststroke, and silver in the 50m Backstroke and the 4 x 50m Medley for a massive total of five (four silver and one bronze) in six events across the two days of action.
Day two saw six countries win at least one medal. Kyrgyzstan topped the tally with six golds, Iran had 15 medals in total, and the host country Turkmenistan impressed with 2 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze medals.
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