This article was produced in association with Ashgabat 2017: 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games
There are two things that event organisers will tell you that they look to for a successful event – good weather and medals galore for the host nation.
You only have to look at how the rare run of sunny days and Team GB’s success gave London 2012 the perfect launch, and it was no different at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games where Turkmenistan gave their fans the perfect start.
With organisers front-loading the early days with Wrestling events, Turkmen medals were expected but an amazing 91 were secured by the end of the fourth day of action, 43 of them gold.
It sent the home fans into raptures and made instant national heroes out of the likes of Seydi Batyrow (pictured) who won six gold medals.
“I am so proud of what I have achieved for my nation,” said the 24-year-old, whose early successes came in both Traditional and Belt Wrestling.
“When Turkmenistan was awarded these Games in 2010, I focussed immediately on wanting to be a part of this event.
“I dedicate my medals to our Esteemed President and the people of Turkmenistan.”
Batyrow captured the spirit of the event by saying his extended family were glued to their television sets to watch his fights in his native town of Sayat, along with friends and neighbours, and he believes his victory will inspire his younger fans.
“They all want to become Wrestlers now,” he said. “They have been inspired by my achievements and want to represent their country in the future.
“There is no better feeling than seeing your flag raised because of something you have achieved. It was amazing the first time and it pushed me to win again and again. I am so proud.
“These Games mean so much to the people of Turkmenistan. We have repaid their support by winning medals in large numbers. This is our way of saying thank-you. I hope this is the start of us winning more medals at major international events around the world.
“We have received a lot of support to prepare for Ashgabat 2017. We love sport in this country and we have been able to show our passion this week.
“The team’s success will make sure that sport is celebrated by every single person here. I am sure more success will follow.”
As hosts, Turkmenistan fielded the largest delegation with more than 500 athletes taking part from the 4,500 overall from 65 delegations.