This article was produced in association with Ashgabat 2017: 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games
Ashgabat, capital of the central Asian country of Turkmenistan, exploded onto the world sporting stage in style when its gleaming new Olympic Complex hosted the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
The city opened its doors to athletes, official and supporters from more than 60 countries and an unforgettable Games was launched with a spectacular opening ceremony which set the scene for what was to follow.
The Turkmen nation worked tirelessly with some of the best brains in world sport to develop and hone the administrative and event management skills required to seamlessly deliver an event which may not be well known on the West but which is of global scale and magnitude.
The Games represents a milestone for sport in Turkmenistan under the leadership of President Garbanguly Berdimuhamedow who identified sport as a positive force in the development of the country and its people after he took office in 2007.
The sheer scale of AIMAG 2017 marked it out as one of the most significant international sports event on this year’s calendar.
The inclusion of countries from Oceania increased the number of participating delegations to 65 with some 5,500 athletes due to take part in 21 sports.
The athletes housed in the Games Village will be supplemented by 1,750 team officials, 1170 technical officials and around 700 dignitaries while members of the OCA family, hundreds of press representatives and 800 broadcast staff will be housed in spectacular new 5-star hotels.
The Games programme offered a varied menu of Olympic and non-Olympic sports with seven martial arts featured. They are Ju-jitsu, Kickboxing, Kurash, Muaythai, Sambo, Taekwando and traditional Turkmen wrestling. Beyond martial arts the programme includes Futsal – indoor football – tennis, short course swimming, bowling, cycling and basketball’s exciting and fast-growing 3x3 format while dance sport and chess also feature on the schedule.
The Games was staged at the breath-taking Ashgabat Olympic Complex, a community of world-class facilities, built on former industrial land around the existing national stadium which has been replaced by a state-of-the-art 45,000 capacity venue which hosted the AIMAG Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
Built by the Turkish company Polimeks, no detail was overlooked.
The Ashgabat Olympic Complex, which also includes its luxury hotels, training venues and a monorail linking all the facilities and venues, is one of the most compact, convenient and thoughtfully designed and built projects of its kind anywhere in the world.
And for the people of Ashgabat and their compatriots throughout Turkmenistan, AIMAG 2017 will be seen as a source of great pride as their nation announced its arrival on the world sports stage.