Turkmenistan’s equestrian stars are ready to jump for gold
Five athletes have been selected to represent Turkmenistan in Equestrian Jumping at the Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in September, one of the most highly anticipated competitions of the event for the home crowd.
Amongst the team are four men and one woman, who each come from very different backgrounds. While one raced horses before moving into Equestrian Jumping, another was a porcelain factory worker.
At 32, Ezber Babalyev is one of Turkmenistan’s most experienced jumpers. The former horse racer said he was enjoying Equestrian Jumping immensely.
“Until 2006, I raced horses. Then I felt I needed a change of scene, but didn’t want to get too far away from horses either, so I shifted to jumping. It’s a decision I never regretted making. and I’ve come to enjoy this sport immensely,” he said during a training session at the International Akhalteke Equestrian Complex.
Babalyev said he intends to put on a strong show in front of the home crowd when the Equestrian Jumping competition of Ashgabat 2017 commences on 21 September.
“I train for two hours twice a day, my sole aim is to win a medal at home in September,” he said with a determined look on his face.
For 28-year-old Fagilya Zaripova, the journey into the world of Equestrian Jumping was as unexpected as it was fulfilling. She said she wanted to give something back to the sport that has given her so much.
“Until the end of 2005, I was working in a porcelain factory near the Akhalteke Equestrian Complex. One day, I happened to see some equestrian athletes sitting withtheir beautiful horses, training at the Centre. I gathered my courage, walked up to them and asked for the person in charge. I asked the person about how to join the team. From there, I worked long and hard and soon I too became a part of the side.
“This sport and this country have given me so much. Now I want to repay them and the best way to do it is to win a medal at Ashgabat 2017. I think I’m ready.”
Begli Garajayev, the most senior member of the team, also had a story to share.
“Until 2009, I worked as a horse trainer in a stable near my house. It was around this time that I understood I had a knack for Equestrian Jumping. I then got in touch with the national team management and soon became a part of the team,” said the 33-year-old, who is also pursuing a course related to horse psychology from the National Institute of Sports and Tourism of Turkmenistan.
Hanjar Gyshykov said that the team have been busy preparing for Ashgabat 2017, with training camps in various European countries.
“We were a part of several training camps in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. We also competed in quite a few local events while on camp. I think we’re now well prepared for the Asian challenge.”
At 22, Nikolay Beglaryan is the team’s youngest jumper. He is confident that the Turkmen team will perform strongly in front of home fans in September, but that competition from other countries can not be underestimated.
“Riders from the Middle East, especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be our toughest opponents. But then again, we’ll have a huge home advantage and we’ll play to our strengths. I’m confident we can put up a strong show.”
Equestrian Jumping will be contested from 21 to 23 September at the Ashgabat Equestrian Centre, with two medal events determining the best jumpers.
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