The hosting of the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan will result in a new sport being introduced to the nation’s public, and its Turkmen players are confident it can strike the big time.
The Turkmenistan Bowling Federation (TBF), established in late 2014 in anticipation of Ashgabat 2017, held its first national tournament in 2015 and has grown the annual event into a rich hunting ground for future national team members.
Geldi Garayew, who is one of the strongest Turkmen Bowlers at Ashgabat 2017, comes from a family with deep roots in combat sports. While Geldi and his elder brother Gadam are Karate practitioners, his younger brother Gaigaziz is a Boxer.
Despite Bowling being an entirely new sport for Geldi, he had clear reasons to choose it as a career.
“I’ve been training in Karate for seven years and I’m quite good at it,” he said. “But ever since Ashgabat was awarded hosting rights for the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in 2010, I desperately wanted to take part in it. But unfortunately, Karate wasn’t a part of the proceedings.”
“I was looking to make the cut as part of another team when I heard about the 2015 Turkmen Bowling Championship. It was a totally new sport for me, but I took a chance and enrolled in the competition. Although I returned empty handed, I felt the game wasn’t too hard. I started pursuing it more seriously and now I’m about to fulfil my dream of being a part of Ashgabat 2017,” said the 30-year-old.
Begencmyrat Muhammetgylyjow, who recently turned 22, tried out various team sports before landing up in a Bowling alley in 2015. Since then, there has been no looking back.
“I’ve been a sportsman since Grade Five and tried my hand at both Basketball and Volleyball. I was hooked on bowling after taking part in the 2015 national championships. I am a member of the Turkmen Armed Forces, but have been granted special permission for training so I am eagerly looking forward to the start of the competition in September,” he said.
Then there are players like Han Hangeldiyew, who despite being totally new to Bowling, won the 2016 national title which secured his spot on the national team.
“I was a Basketball player for 12 years, but I didn’t see much of a future in it for me. I was desperately looking for a change so I took part in the 2016 national Bowling Championship and surprisingly won the title. The path was clear for me and I simply took it,” he said.
The story of 21-year-old Nasiba Orazmedowa is somewhat similar. But instead of making a name for himself at the national championship, the former gymnast clinched the 2015 inter-university title.
“I’m a fifth-year student at the National Institute of Sports and Tourism of Turkmenistan. Despite being a gymnast for 10 years, I wanted a change of scenario as it’s a sport where you’re more successful when you’re younger. I competed in the 2015 Turkmenistan Inter-University Bowling Tournament and was shocked to win the title. From then on, I didn’t have to think much about choosing a new career sport to pursue,” she said.
As well as preparing herself for the biggest moment of her life in September, Nasiba has been keeping an eye on her competition.
“The girls from South Korea, Japan and China are going to be really strong and they’ll prove to be my biggest challengers. However, I’m aware of my strengths and will stick to it. I’ll try my best not to be struck by stage fright,” she said.
The Turkmenistan Bowling Federation President and national coach Batyr Hangeldiyew said his players are ready for September and know that a strong performance will help to boost the sport.
“While some of our players have competed at the Asian level, others aren’t too experienced. But they all appreciate the opportunity they have ahead of them. They’re ready and I’m confident they’ll put their best foot forward at home,” he said.
“If one of our players manage to win a medal at Ashgabat 2017, it’ll go a long way in helping popularise the sport in the country. I wish them the best of luck,” he added.
The Bowling competition at Ashgabat 2017 will take place in the Bowling Centre at the Ashgabat Olympic Complex from 21–27 September.