Sport in Kazakhstan
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Kazakhstan consistently performs in Olympic competitions. It is especially successful in boxing. This has brought some attention to the Central Asian nation, and increased world awareness of its athletes. Kazakhstan's city of Almaty submitted twice bid for the Winter Olympics: In 2014 and again for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Astana and Almaty hosted 2011 Asian Winter Games.
Dmitriy Karpov is a distinguished decathlete, taking bronze in both the 2004 Summer Olympics, and the 2003 and 2007 World Athletics Championships. Olga Rypakova is an athlete, specialized in triple jump (women's), taking silver in the 2011 World Championships in Athletics.
Kazakh boxers are generally well known in the world. In the last three Olympic Games, their performance was assessed as one of the best and they had more medals than any country in the world, except Cuba and Russia (in all three games). In 1996 and 2004, two Kazakh boxers (Vasiliy Jirov in 1996 and Bakhtiyar Artayev in 2004) were recognized as the best boxers for their techniques with the Val Barker trophy, awarded to the best boxer of the tournament.
In boxing, Kazakhstan performed well in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Two boxers, Bekzat Sattarkhanov and Yermakhan Ibraimov, earned gold medals. Another two boxers, Bulat Jumadilov and Mukhtarkhan Dildabekov, earned silver medals.
Skier Vladimir Smirnov won seven medals in total in the 1988, 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics, including a gold in the 50 km competition in 1994. He also won 11 medals in total in the World Championships from 1987 to 1995, including four gold medals. During the first part of his active career, he represented the Soviet Union, in the later part Kazakhstan.
Cycling is Kazakhstan's most successful sport. Alexander Vinokourov represented Kazakhstan in his cycling career for the Astana. Vinokourov had an impressive cycling record finishing third overall in the 2003 Tour de France. Vinokourov finished 5th in the 2005 Tour de France, while two other young Kazakhstanis, Andrej Kashechkin, who later finished 3rd in the 2006 Vuelta a Espana, and Maxim Iglinsky, winner of 2012 Liege-Bastogne-Liege and now one of the world's best punchers, finished 19th and 37th, respectively. In 2006, Vinokourov's team became known as Astana, after a drug doping scandal forced his team Liberty Seguros from the 2006 Tour de France. Vinokourov helped form a new team funded by a conglomeration of Kazakhstan businesses and adopted the color of the Kazakh flag for its uniforms. That same year, Vinokourov and Kashechkin took first and third places in general classification at Vuelta a España in Spain. Vinokourov won the gold medal in the Cycling Road Race at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
In September 2006, Vino won the 61st Vuelta a España by attacking Alejandro Valverde in dramatic fashion with 23 km to go in Stage 17. He then held on to his lead over the next four stages, including the final individual time trial to win the Vuelta. Vinokourov and Kashechkin would go on in 2007 to form a new team, backed by the same sponsors as their team from 2006, but with its own lineage. This team is also known as Astana.
Football is the most popular sport in Kazakhstan. The Football Federation of Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Қазақстанның Футбол Федерациясы, Qazaqstannıñ fwtbol federacïyası) is the sport's national governing body. The FFK organises the men's, women's, and futsal national teams.
The Kazakh national ice hockey team have competed in ice hockey in the 1998 and 2006 Winter Olympics, as well as in the 2006 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships. Kazakhstan has seven teams. The teams are Kaztsink-Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhmys Satpaev, Gornyak Rudnyi, Barys Astana, Irtysh Pavlodar, Yenbek Almaty, and Sary-Arka Karagandy. Most teams also play in Russian Hockey Leagues. Top Kazakhstani ice hockey players include Nik Antropov and Evgeni Nabokov. Barys Astana is the main domestic Kazakh ice hockey professional team, and having played in the Kazakh national league until the 2008–09 season, when they were transferred to play in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Aliya Yussupova was placed 4th in the Summer Olympic Games in Athens. She has been among the medalist winners in several previous tournaments. Currently, she is considered to be one of the top rhythmic gymnasts in the world. After the retiring of Aliya Yussupova in the end of 2009, Kazakhstan maintained its top place in the world thanks to the emerge of Anna Alyabyeva who knows represent the nation in the international tournaments, grand prix, and world championship.
Rugby union is a popular sport in Kazakhstan. The Kazakhstan Rugby Union was founded in 1993. It develops traditions of rugby existing in Kazakhstan since 1966, when the first men's national rugby team of Kazakh Soviet Republic was formed. In 2002, the national women's team became the Asian Champions for the third time. The men's team is becoming stronger and participating in major international tournaments. It is now ranked 32nd (out of 95) position in the IRB World Rankings.
The high altitude speed skating rink Medeo near Almaty is one of the foremost in the world, and has seen many world records in all speed skating distances. The Indoor Speed Skating Stadium in Astana was built for the Asian Winter Games in 2011.
- Bandy – The Kazakhstan national bandy team is among the best in the world, and has three times won the bronze medal at the Bandy World Championships, including the 2012 edition on home ice. In the 2011 tournament, they were an extra-time in the semi-final from reaching the final for the first time. In 2012, they were even closer when they took it to a penalty shootout. The team won the first bandy tournament at the Asian Winter Games. During the Soviet time, Dynamo Alma-Ata won the national championships in 1977 and 1990, and the European Cup in 1978.
- Ilya Ilin – Competing in the 94 kg men's category, he is currently one of the best weightlifters in the world. He is one the few weightlifters who have won two consecutive gold medals at the Olympics, the first at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics and the second at the London 2012 Summer Olympics. He set a new world record in the 94 kg category for clean & jerk (233 kg) and the total (418 kg) at London.