This article was produced in association with Ashgabat 2017: 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games
Following a glittering Opening Ceremony that launched the biggest event ever staged in Central Asia, organisers have hailed the dawn of a new sporting era for Turkmenistan.
The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games have been held Ashgabat, which was transformed into a state-of-the-art host city capable of staging one of the largest and most complex multi-sport events in the world.
And what a show it was too. The sparkling Opening Ceremony, produced by ceremony masters – Balich Worldwide Shows – involved an incredible 7,500 performers, including 200 musicians, who went through a whopping 75,000 pieces of clothing to woo a sold-out audience of 45,000 spectators at the Ashgabat Olympic Stadium.
The spectacle provided the solid foundations for the 12 days of sport which featured 6,000 athletes and officials from 65 delegations including 19 from Oceania for the first time.
“I believe we have delivered something very special to the sporting world, and the wise vision of our Esteemed President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has been realised,” said Dayanch Gulgeldiyev, Chairman of the 5th AIMAG Executive Committee.
“We have answered all of the questions that were asked of us. We are extremely proud of what has been achieved.”
Work started on the massive infrastructure development programme as soon as the Games were awarded to Turkmenistan by the Olympic Council of Asia in 2010.
The venues were completed well ahead of time with 13 of the 15 competition centres constructed in the Ashgabat Olympic Complex, which has the Stadium as a spectacular centrepiece.
The lasting legacy for the country comes in a number of shapes and sizes, but one particular aspect to benefit its development is the training of 8,000 volunteers who provided the backbone for the event.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for playing their parts in this success story,” said Gulgeldiyev (pictured). “When their country needed them, the Turkmen men and women stepped forward in their thousands. This was a huge national initiative that has captured the imagination of a country that showed its passion for sport to the world.”
The ripples of the event travelled throughout the sporting world which is waiting with bated breath to see what’s next for the new kid on the block.
“First, we will carry out a full review of how this event went,” added Gulgeldiyev. “We will scrutinise every aspect of the event to see what went well and what could have been better. We wanted Ashgabat 2017 to make a big statement to show what Turkmenistan is capable of and I am delighted at what was achieved by my country.”
The national team played its part in the success story by racing ahead in the medals table during the opening days after dominating the Traditional Wrestling competitions.
It bodes well for a country eager to highlight the values that sport can bring to the world, and judging by the success of its first venture into hosting major events, we will hear a lot more from Turkmenistan in the future.