This article was produced in association with Ashgabat 2017
Dayanch Gulgeldiyev, chairman of the Executive Committee for the preparation of the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, tells SportBusiness International how the event will irrevocably change sport in Turkmenistan and across Asia
What does hosting AIMAG mean for Turkmenistan as a nation and for sport in Turkmenistan?
DG: “Organising and hosting this great event in Ashgabat is a way for Turkmenistan to offer something to our neighbours and friends across Asia and Oceania, and the world.
“You’ll see that Health, Inspiration and Friendship are the messages of our Games, and we believe in these ideas. We believe in the value of sport, both at the elite level, and for everyone.
“This is part of the vision of our Esteemed President, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, and it’s reflected in the planning and work that has been accomplished in preparing for the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.”
How important are martial arts to the sporting culture of Turkmenistan?
DG: “Very important – Turkmenistan has a tradition in martial arts that extends thousands of years, and today all of the disciplines are extremely popular and growing.IMAGE: Dayanch Gulgeldiyev, Chairman of the Executive Committee for the preparation of the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (Ashgabat 2017)
“Wrestling is a national sport and to have Traditional Wrestling as one of the events is a great honour, as it has been important in our lives and culture for a very long time. As a nation, we love to compete in all the martial arts like Muaythai, Sambo, Belt Wrestling, Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling, Taekwondo – all of them, and we are constantly trying to improve on our sporting performances.”
As host city, what does Ashgabat offer AIMAG?
DG: “Ashgabat is a beautiful city, with some of the most striking monuments on earth, with a rich culture that extends into the ancient past, combined with a new modern face. Visitors will arrive at the stunning Ashgabat International Airport, with its uniquely beautiful design, and then explore the many treasures the city has to offer.
“Our cuisine, our world-famous tradition of carpet making, and the hospitality of the people are just the beginning. Plus, in the centre of Ashgabat, is our Olympic Complex, which contains 30 different sites, including 13 of the 15 competition venues plus the ultra-modern Athletes Village.
“It is the operational centre piece of our plan for AIMAG, and it’s woven into the fabric of the city itself, so that visitors can easily reach it any time of day.”
What will the legacy of AIMAG be for Turkmenistan?
DG: “Hosting the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, which will be the largest AIMAG ever, with 65 delegations from Asia and Oceania expected to compete, will leave a multi-faceted legacy in Turkmenistan.
“Mainly, it will be with the people of Turkmenistan who can proudly look back on the Games, and also confidently look forward to hosting more great events.
“The technical expertise we gain, and the experience hosting very complex multi-sport events will extend throughout our professional workforce, especially our young people.
“And, the Games will inspire us to stay involved in sports of all kinds.”
What will the legacy of Ashgabat be for AIMAG?
DG: “We hope that the state-of-the-art competition venues, and the world-class Athletes Village will set a new standard for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. But we also want to express the ideas and vision laid out by our Esteemed President, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, that these Games are a way to show all of our friends and neighbours how inspiring sport can be, how important it is to lead a healthy lifestyle, and how peaceful competition is a great way to build lasting friendships and camaraderie. We hope these things are the legacy to AIMAG.”
Why is hosting major sports events so important for Ashgabat and Turkmenistan?
DG: “Hosting major sport events is important to Ashgabat and to Turkmenistan because they offer a global platform to compete at the very highest levels, which are great ways to support the long-term development of sport in our country.
“They also offer opportunities for all of us to participate in a great endeavour, one that reflects our nation’s values, and inspires our young people.”
What is Turkmenistan’s bidding strategy going forward – what events would you like to host and what bids are planned or have already been made?
DG: “Right now, I am focused on delivering these Games at the highest level. My No.1 priority is making sure that Ashgabat 2017 is a great event in every way.”
How has the Turkmen public responded to hosting the Games?
DG: “The public has responded very enthusiastically throughout the preparations and their enthusiasm is building. In early March, for example, our volunteer programme registered 2,000 people in just one day.”
How has hosting the Games impacted on the event management skills base in Turkmenistan and how do you view its legacy?
DG: “A multi-sport event like AIMAG is an extremely complex undertaking. Consider organising the equivalent of 21 international championships all at the same time. Each of the 65 delegations who participate bring their elite teams, coaches and trainers, and they need to be housed, fed and transported to training and competition sites at precise times and locations every day.
“The IT support, broadcasting equipment, and technical services must be state-of-the-art and fully-operational at all times, in every venue. And we have to create an unforgettable experience for the thousands of spectators who will visit the Games.
“The expertise we are building by recruiting and training Turkmen nationals through our Games Academy programme will be a great legacy to our country, and will open up new opportunities.”
What has been the response to the volunteer programme?
DG: “It’s been excellent. We reached our target of 11,000 volunteer registrations earlier this year and the initial training sessions are already underway. They will all receive three types of training – general, role specific and venue specific. And so far, the spirit and enthusiasm of our volunteers is an inspiration to us all.”
What have been the biggest challenges in organising AIMAG?
DG: “Waiting until September! In many ways, we feel ready to host the Games right now. Our venues are ready, of course we have final overlay and technical build-outs still scheduled, and we know we have a lot of work to do in these final months, but it’s hard to wait sometimes for such a great event.”
What are the major lessons learned?
DG: “Teamwork is critically important from the start. Our success to date, and one of the key reasons we are on schedule, and our venues are ready, is because we saw early on in our preparations that we made more progress when we worked together.
“It’s a familiar lesson to many of us from the world of sports, but taking the time to build and develop a spirit of teamwork is essential for a large-scale project like this, and it’s something we cultivate.”
Now that the Games are almost here, what are you personally most looking forward to?
DG: “The great satisfaction of a job well done by everyone involved.”
MAIN IMAGE: The Ashgabat Olympic Complex (©Laurel Photo Services)