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FC Astana to start UEFA Champions League qualification in Latvia


ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s football clubs are set to start qualification rounds in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League in July. The four teams representing the nation last week learned who their opponents at the initial stages of the European Cups would be.

Three-time winners of Kazakhstan’s Premier League FC Astana will start their road towards the UEFA Champions League with two matches against Latvian champions FK Spartaks Jurmala. Taking into account the capital city club’s solid experience in European Cups in recent years – they have played twice at the prestigious tournaments’ group stages – they look like strong favourites in this pairing. However, FC Astana head coach Stanimir Stoilov has warned his players against underestimating the opponents.

“Spartaks are serious competitors; they won the Latvian championship last year. They have experienced players, some of them [now or previously] parts of their country’s national team. As I always say, [whether the draw was favourable to you] can be assessed only after the matches end. If we win over Spartaks, then we can say we were lucky. The Champions League has no easy-to-beat teams; we should never underestimate the opponent. We even have a good example. Last year we played Lithuanian Zalgiris. Many thought that we had already made it to the next round, but the game was very hard, and only a goal at the very last minute saved us then,” he explained.

The first leg will be played July 12 in Latvia; the return match in Astana will take place July 18.

The three other Kazakh clubs, FC Kairat Almaty, FC Irtysh Pavlodar and FC Ordabasy Shymkent, will start their Europa League campaigns in the first qualifying round.

Kairat will be playing Atlantas Klaipeda. The Lithuanian side has experience playing Kazakh opponents, as they were eliminated 0:3 at the hands of Karaganda’s Shakhter in 2014.

“We understand these will be important matches for us. Of course, we will train hard and stay focused as much as possible, because we have a clear task ahead of us [to progress in the tournament]. We respect all teams and will be very serious [in our approach],” said Kakhaber Tskhadadze, FC Kairat’s coach.

Irtysh will play FC Dunav Ruse from Bulgaria.

“Our opponents are not the team you would try to avoid. They have no celebrity players, but it is a very strong team with a good young coach. The confrontation is likely to be tough. Of course, we will try our best to win. However, it will be difficult, because it is a good strong team,” Irtysh’s head coach Dimitar Dimitrov said of his team’s challenger.

Ordabasy will challenge Bosnian side Siroki Brijeg. The Balkan team previously played Irtysh in 2013 and eliminated them 4:3 on aggregate, giving Shymkent a chance to enact revenge on behalf of Kazakh clubs.



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Astana basketball club hires new coach with NBA experience


ASTANA – Kostas Flevarakis has been hired as the new coach of BC Astana, Kazakhstan’s premier basketball team.

Kostas Flevarakis

He will replace Greek compatriot Ilias Papatheodorou, who guided the team to the national championship and VTB United League playoffs in the 2016-2017 season. The Kazakh club delivered a decent overall performance during the season and dropped out of the VTB League only after losing to CSKA Moscow, one of the best clubs in European basketball.

Papatheodorou is leaving his post for family reasons.

Flevarakis began his career in 1995 as a coach with the Greek club PAOK, which won the Greek Cup three years later. He also led AEK, another major Greek club, before becoming an assistant coach with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks during the 2001 summer league. Flevarakis later worked as a scout with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. Last season, he coached the Rethymno Cretan Kings, a club competing in Greece’s top-tier basketball league.

BC Astana’s management signed a one-year contract with the new coach.

“The past season was successful for us, as we won the national championship, made it to the VTB League playoffs and finally opened our children’s academy. The whole team did a good job. I am pleased with the current management of the club, the general manager and the young executive director. These people are eager to develop basketball and are really working on achieving the club’s goals and objectives. I would especially like to thank the team’s former head coach Ilias Papatheodorou for the work he did, for the results and fruits the team achieved with him. Unfortunately, Ilias had to return home for family reasons, which is why we announced the appointment of Flevarakis,” said Astana Presidential Professional Sports Club Executive Director Amanbek Kulchikov.

“We set the bar high for the team and the renewed line-up, which is to win the national championship, reach the VTB League playoffs, develop the academy and strengthen the image of BC Astana,” he added.

Valery Tikhonenko, a member of the USSR team that won the basketball tournament at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and is now general manager of BC Astana, noted the club is paying special attention to training a new generation of Kazakh players. The plan is being executed by investing efforts in the club’s children’s academy to develop a stronger home-grown professional cadre.

“I was very much looking forward to the opening of this academy and I am pleased that the academy now actively works and is in demand among a great number of children. I am grateful to the Astana Presidential Club for their support and help. Last season, we achieved our goals; we had a successful season in general and will start the new season with exactly the same ambition. Of course, we need to take into account the fact that we went through some changes. We have Costas Flevarakis, a true professional, with us now and I am sure that together with him our guys will achieve good results,” said Tikhonenko.



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WSB final match to take place July 15 at Astana Arena


ASTANA – The Astana Arlans and Cuba Domadores, the two most decorated teams in the series, will contest July 15 for the World Series of Boxing (WSB) champion’s title. The final match of the seventh season will be hosted in Astana Arena during EXPO 2017 and welcome fans from throughout the world.

The contest will also have a new format, with bouts in all 10 weight categories to be held in one day.

“This summer, Astana has become a gem of cultural events and this fact played a role in choosing the venue for the WSB finals. The brand of ‘Astana’ promotes the image of the capital and Kazakhstan in the world of sports and this explains the decision to hold the final match of the WSB with the participation of our boxers in Astana. Of course, we should thank the WSB for entrusting us with becoming the organisers of the final match,” said Astana Presidential Professional Sports Club Executive Director Amanbek Kulchikov.

“During preparation for the finals, we negotiated with the Kazakhstan Boxing Federation and the Combat and Strength Sports Confederation and reached complete mutual understanding on hosting the event. The organisation of the WSB finals is our joint work, because we were united by one goal of developing boxing in Kazakhstan and a worthy image of the country. We worked well with these organisations and I am sure that the WSB final in Astana will be held at a high level,” he said.

According to Arlans’ head coach Nurlan Akurpekov, the team is planning to involve boxers from the national team. The line-up will be decided later.

“We were quickly going to our goal and now we are in the finals. The guys did a great job. They gave it their all and met the expectations. We have an important fight ahead. We have been waiting and training hard for it. The Cubans are no doubt worthy opponents and we shouldn’t underestimate them. However, our athletes proved in regular matches that they have a strong will to win and they are ready to show it again in the final match in Astana,” he said.

The Astana Arlans have made it to the WSB finals four times and became the absolute leader of this season’s regular matches. In their Asia geographic group, the Arlans were in the so-called “group of death,” which includes Russia’s Patriot Boxing Team, the Uzbek Tigers and China Dragons. These franchises feature some of the strongest representatives of amateur boxing and Kazakh boxers lost only once in an away match with the Tigers. In the semi-finals, the Arlans beat the British Lionhearts, while the Domadores defeated the Colombia Heroicos. Now, the two strongest teams will meet in the finals.

WSB is a league where the world’s best amateur boxers compete in teams without headgear and use the scoring system of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA). According to the WSB website, the appearance of the league “reunited the broader boxing world and its grassroots amateur foundation by providing a bridge between Olympic Boxing and a future professional programme within the AIBA family.”

AIBA wholly owns WSB. All WSB boxers are registered with AIBA and all referees and officials working WSB matches are specifically certified for the competition. Franchises have a national identity and are formed by national federations. Teams are allowed a quota of overseas boxers: a maximum of eight and no more than three of the same nationality.

Teams compete in the 10 AIBA standard weight categories. The regular season takes the form of a league phase, with the teams facing each other home and away in alternating weight categories. The top teams continue to the playoff stages. Teams representing franchises across the globe compete in a league format leading to playoffs and a final. The boxers compete in five three-minute rounds and five bouts per match.

 



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Kazakh boxers win President’s Cup in Astana


ASTANA – The Kazakh national boxing team won the June 5-10 Fifth International Boxing Tournament for the President’s Cup of Kazakhstan in Astana. The event included teams from 10 countries, consisting of 31 women and 82 men. In the women’s 51kg category, first place went to the two-time world champion Nazym Kyzaibay. Olympic medallist Dariga Shakimova in the 75kg took a win over strong opponent from Russia Darima Sandakova.

The strongest boxer in the men’s 49kg was Filipino Paalam Carlo. The champions’ titles in all other weight categories went to Kazakh boxers. Among all the finals, fans and pundits alike noted the intensity of the bout in the 69kg category between Sadriddin Akhmedov and Uzbek Bobo-Usmon Baturov, which was narrowly claimed by the host boxer.

Rio Olympics’ silver medallist Vasily Levit defeated his opponent from India Chauhan Gaurav. At the final awards ceremony, Team Kazakhstan handed the President’s Cup they won to Levit as recognition of his status as the national team’s informal leader.

“I had a good opponent in the finals. I changed my tactics a bit in the first round. The coaches made some adjustments in the second round. Everything turned out well. The main objective at this tournament for me was to gain practical experience. Now we will be training for the World Championship,” said Levit.

The AIBA World Boxing Championships are scheduled to take place Aug. 25 to Sept. 3 in Hamburg, Germany.

“This tournament is important, first of all, for our boxers, who will be travelling to Germany. This is another opportunity to test their strength before the [bigger] tournament, pay attention to their mistakes and try to correct them. This will also help gain some competitive practical experience. This year several European countries could not take part in the President’s Cup, but those teams that came put up a good competition too. We saw representatives of various boxing schools such as the Philippines, Iran, and Uzbekistan, so all bouts were tense,” said Myrzagali Aitzhanov, head coach of Kazakhstan’s national boxing team.



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Astana Arlans revenge Brits for last year’s WSB defeat, to meet Cubans in final


ASTANA – The Astana Arlans boxing team claimed a solid 7-3 victory over the British Lionhearts in the semifinals of the World Series of Boxing (WSB). As the British team prevented the Kazakh boxers from reaching the finals last season, the Arlans were determined to take revenge against their opponents.

The first leg was held in the northern Kazakh city of Kostanai and it was clear from the first bout the Astana team intended to gain an advantage before the trip to London. Temirtas Zhussupov (49kg) overwhelmed Kieran McDonald, then Ilyas Suleimenov did not give his opponent Christopher Bourke any chance, forcing a corner retirement.

The outcome of the match was decided in the third bout, when Dilmurat Mizhitov beat Conor Loftus, giving the Arlans an ahead-of-time win.

The 75kg fourth bout brought together home team boxer Abilkhan Amankul against Brit Nikita Ababiy. Amankul, called by some specialists one of Kazakhstan’s most talented young boxers, had a confident win over his opponent.

The hosts failed to win just one bout that evening, as heavyweight Anton Pinchuk lost to David Kieran Nyika. Pinchuk was injured in the quarterfinals, however, and have not made a full recovery.

“We were pleased with the way our boxers fought. All bouts turned out to be tough, but the guys coped and showed grit. As for Pinchuk’s loss, there is nothing to blame him for, because despite the injury he got last time, he decided to box and did his best to help the team. I’m very grateful to the fans who helped the Kazakh boxers in all bouts. We have laid a good groundwork and almost made it to the finals, but away fights are always hard, so we will get ready for the return match to confirm our superiority in London,” said Nurlan Akurpekov, the Arlans head coach.

Based on the first round results, Team Kazakhstan needed to win at least two of the five fights in the June 8 return match to go to the finals. The Arlans won more than needed, claiming a 3-2 away victory in London to secure tickets to the WSB finals.

Rio Olympics’ participant Olzhas Sattybayev (52kg) topped Dean Farrell, thus scoring the first point for the Arlans. One of the club’s most experienced boxers, Zakir Safiullin, showed his great skills, knocking down New Zealander Chad Milnes two times and forcing the home team’s boxer to stop the fight. In the 69kg category, Aslanbek Shymbergenov beat Kumar Manoj by unanimous decision. Arman Rysbek (81 kg) lost to Thomas Whittaker-Hart. Thus, after two matches, the Astana Arlans defeated the British Lionhearts by a score of 7-3.

In the finals, Team Kazakhstan will challenge the Cuba Domadores who reached by defeating WSB’s Colombian franchise.

The final will be the fourth for the Arlans in the past seven years. The team took silver in 2011, then became WSB champions in 2013 and 2015. With two titles each, the Arlans and Domadores lead the league.

WSB is a league that sees the world’s best amateur boxers competing in teams without headgear and using the scoring system of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA). According to the WSB website, the appearance of the league “reunited the broader boxing world and its grassroots amateur foundation by providing a bridge between Olympic Boxing and a future professional programme within the AIBA family.”

AIBA wholly owns WSB. All WSB boxers are registered with AIBA and all referees and officials working WSB matches are specifically certified for the competition. Franchises have a national identity and are formed by national federations. Teams are allowed a quota of overseas boxers: a maximum of eight and no more than three of the same nationality.

Teams compete in the 10 AIBA standard weight categories. The regular season takes the form of a league phase, with the teams facing each other home and away in alternating weight categories. The top teams continue to the playoff stages. Teams representing franchises across the globe compete in a league format leading to playoffs and a final. The boxers compete in five three-minute rounds and five bouts per match.

 



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Team Kazakhstan loses to Denmark in FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification


ALMATY – Kazakhstan’s national football team lost to Denmark 3-1 in the qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup 2018. The match took place in Almaty, where the host team had not played for more than a year, so the game aroused great interest in the southern capital.

Photo: sports.kz

Even before the beginning of the match, local fans understood it would be very difficult to beat Denmark, which currently features such star players as one of England’s Premier League best players Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspurs FC. As the Kazakh team managed surprising home draws last fall against higher-ranked Poland and Romania, however, there were hopes something similar could happen in Almaty.

It was clear from the first minute that the hosts were determined to show their best. They kept the ball for long periods and the visiting team’s goalkeeper on his toes. Azat Nurgaliyev had a good scoring chance, but the midfielder shot at an acute angle and the ball hit above the net. Georgi Zhukov then made an inaccurate long-range shot.

Unfortunately, the initial domination brought no benefits to the Kazakhs. The situation was quite the opposite for Denmark, which got the most from the least. The first goal to hit the net behind host goalkeeper David Loria was scored by the visitors in the 27th minute, when, with a pass from Yussuf Poulsen, teammate Nicolai Jorgensen completed the attack. Shortly before the end of the first half, Team Kazakhstan was left short-handed when Bauyrzhan Islamkhan hit William Kvist with an elbow in a dog-fight and saw red.

At the beginning of the second half, the referee awarded a penalty for Denmark. Eriksen, the visitors’ captain, was accurate and increased the difference in the score. While it was hard to expect a good result in this situation, the Kazakh team kept playing and in the 76th minute managed to win back one goal. Islambek Kuat went one-on-one with the goalkeeper and scored, making it 2-1 and giving some hope that the game could be saved.

Only a few minutes later, however, the Danes scored the third goal. Forward Kasper Dolberg made a well-placed shot, setting the final score for Denmark.

The win was the third for Denmark in the qualifying round. With 10 points, the team is now ranked second in Group E behind Poland. Team Kazakhstan, which suffered its fifth defeat, is on the bottom in sixth place, with only two points.

“Our guys played well and showed grit. As for the red card for our captain, it was a [regular] collision and I do not understand why the referee made such a decision. Of course, there were very few chances when playing in the minority, but our guys kept on [doing their job] and I want to thank them for that. We still have a lot to do; we will have to correct our mistakes, but the game showed that our team has character and hence the future. I want to thank all the fans who came to the match and created an excellent atmosphere,” said Team Kazakhstan’s head coach Alexander Borodyuk after the match.

“The game was tough. I don’t know what to say and I cannot understand why the red card was shown [to Islamkhan]. The guys played 200 percent. After the red card they showed grit, but lacked strength. We tried our best for our fans. They came to support us and we wanted to please them. I think we have the desire, so we will achieve a positive result. Once again, I want to thank the fans who supported us,” said Loria.



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Kazakhstan’s first ever Cross-Country World Cup stage finishes in Aktau


ASTANA – Rally Kazakhstan 2017, which was also the fifth stage of the Cross-Country World Cup organised by the International Automobile Federation (FIA), was held in Aktau May 20-26 with the support of the Kazakhstan Federation of Automobile Sports.

Photo credit: sports.kz.

The FIA Cross-Country World Cup is a multi-stage racing series held annually in different countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Morocco. This was the first time Kazakhstan gained the right to hold one of the stages of the prestigious series.

Twenty-five crews (50 drivers and co-drivers) from Belarus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the UAE took part in the rally.

The official launch was from Aktau’s Waterfront Square in Micro-District 15. The rally consisted of six stages and racers needed to travel more than 2,500 km. Mangystau region in West Kazakhstan was chosen for the rally as its demanding terrain offers a unique sense of thrill.

Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar came in first, followed by Polish riders Jakub Przygonski and Aron Domzala.

“Today, we finished the last stage of the rally. Everything went very well. That was a drive with excellent and challenging sections, so it was a pleasure to race it and win,” said Al-Attiyah.

Astana Motorsports crew captain Artur Ardavichus, who has passed several of the world’s most taxing rally-marathons in his career, drove a MAN truck in Rally Kazakhstan.

“Our racers did very well, all in accordance with the standard and regulations. It was definitely a very well organised race in terms of complexity of the tracks, navigation and load on the car. What was particularly great is that we did not have to run around camps. The organisers took this into account and placed the camp in one place, which was pretty good I must say. So, we did not have to deal with logistics and could focus more on the race itself. I hope next year I will race in my native land again,” said Ardavichus.

“The specific side of this race was that its distance was 2,500 km, so the participants could gain a good score here and improve their positions in the World Cup standings. Kazakhstan was represented by 13 crews, all of which did quite well. International experts commended the level of organisation of the race. The route was not easy and there were windy and rocky sections. I think it was an impressive event for many fans as well, as they could see the world’s best motor sport crews live,” said Kazakh coach Nurpeis Konysbayev.

The event provided the opportunity for some of the world’s best riders to learn first-hand about the natural, cultural and historical treasures of West Kazakhstan and get acquainted with its unique beauty. Mangystau region, the home of ancient civilisations, is known as sort of a museum under the open sky and the region of unique religious sites and places of spiritual importance. It is an archaeological reserve where more than 11,000 historical monuments are under state protection. There are thousands of wall paintings, unique constructions and the Beket-Ata, Masat-Ata, Shakpak-Ata and Shopan-Ata mosques. Pilgrims not only from Kazakhstan, but also from neighbouring countries, regularly visit the sites.

The rally route ran through the Karagiye Depression, where the caravan routes of the Great Silk Road used to pass. A giant bowl with uneven slopes, Karagiye serves as the habitat for many representatives of rare fauna. The Karagiye Depression is the fourth largest in the world after Ghor in the Turfan Basin, Afar and Kattara.

Cross-country racing fans are preparing for another big rally to cross Kazakhstan, as the organisers recently announced the route and dates for the Silk Way Rally 2017. The race will kick off July 7 in Moscow’s famous Red Square and finish in Xian, the starting point of the historic Silk Road, on July 22. One of the rally’s central stages will see its finish in Astana on July 11 as one of the capital’s highlights during EXPO 2017. The rally’s announced total length is 9,608 km, with special stages covering 4,089 km, or 42.6 percent of the entire route.

Kazakh fans will be supporting crews from the Astana Presidential Professional Sports Club. Last year, its four crews competed successfully in the Silk Way Rally. Denis Berezovskiy and his co-pilot Ignat Falkov, riding a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 200, won in the T2 class, which featured cross-country series production vehicles. Well-known Kazakh businessperson and rally rider Aidyn Rakhimbaev and his Russian co-driver Anton Nikolaev in their MINI All 4 Racing finished in the top five in the T1 class, which featured improved cross-country production vehicles.

 



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Olympic champion predicts Golovkin will knockout Alvarez


ASTANA – The 2004 Olympic champion Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov of Russia, the boxer who defeated Gennady Golovkin (GGG) in the finals of the Athens Olympics, believes GGG can beat Mexican Saul Alvarez, Gaidarbekov recently told The Astana Times. As previously reported, the fight between the world’s two strongest middleweights will be Sept. 16. This bout is called the most important boxing event of the year and awaited by millions of fans throughout the world.

Gennady Golovkin (L) and Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov. Photo credit: sports.kz.

What do you think about Golovkin’s fight with Alvarez?

Alvarez is a dangerous fighter. I cannot say with absolute certainty, after all, it’s boxing, and anything can happen, but I see Gena has some prospects in this fight. Despite being a current boxing superstar, Golovkin does not relax, and it’s very good. Having this huge experience after a great number of fights, he needs to go further, and a fight against Alvarez could do good to Golovkin. I think Golovkin should take the initiative and take off in this fight. So, he really needs to make up his mind and get ready for a very tough bout, and then he will make it.

Both fighters have good striking power. Can we expect an open heavy fight?

No, they will box very carefully. Golovkin has good tactics in all fights. I did not quite like his last fight though. Jacobs played it very safe, so he couldn’t do well. The American was afraid of missing the blows, so he was very careful and did not get into full contact. Punch, then slip… He ran a lot, so it was hard for Golovkin. If I’m not mistaken, that was the first time in a long while  that Gena fought all 12 rounds. This time, I think, Alvarez will also be careful, but will make some occasional sudden attacks. I think the fight against Canelo, who is much slower than Gena, will be even easier for Golovkin than with Jacobs.

Because Alvarez will not be afraid?

Yes, Alvarez will fling a lot, and Gena will get him. Canelo is bolder, stouter and slightly lower than Golovkin. Gena will beat him and knock him out in the seventh or eighth round.

The famous Russian boxer also said that he was thinking about a possible fight between Gennady Golovkin and the legendary world champion Floyd Mayweather.

This will happen someday. If Floyd Mayweather wants it, I think this should happen. Both boxers are world stars, and this fight would be important for Floyd Mayweather himself. I believe Gena has all chances to win. Observing Golovkin, one cannot but say that he has grown very much in recent years. Today, he is like a cobra standing against his opponents. He has a very nice boxing style. He sees everything, and it’s very good. This is what boxing should be like.



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Astana Arlans reach WSB semi-finals


ASTANA – The Astana Arlans boxing club of Kazakhstan recently defeated the Russian Patriot Boxing Team after two matches and reached the World Series of Boxing (WSB) semi-finals. A week earlier, the Arlans took a 3-2 win in Kemerovo. The return quarterfinal match took place in Karaganda and again ended with the Kazakh victory.

Photo credit: astanaarlans.kz.

The first three fights were enough for the Arlans to secure a berth in the tournament’s next round. First, Olzhas Sattibayev (up to 52 kg) beat Ivan Abramov. Then Zakir Safiullin (60 kg) defeated Shahrier Ahmedov and Aslanbek Shymbergenov (69 kg) beat Shahabas Mahmudov.

The 81kg bout was particularly difficult between Arman Rysbek and Imam Hataev. Both boxers showed spectacular boxing with many blows. In a close competition, the home team’s boxer clinched the win. In the end, the Russian team only managed to win one bout. Patriot boxer Artem Suslenkov defeated Dmitry Zisko of Kazakhstan, who made his debut. Thus, Arlans reached the tournament semi-finals, where they will fight the British Lionhearts. The semi-finals will take place June 2-3 and 9-10.

“We imagined it wouldn’t be easy. I want to thank our guys for the good job. They had a good fight and deserved the win. Our experienced boxers Olzhas Sattybayev, Zakir Safiullin and Aslanbek Shymbergenov met the expectations. So did Arman Rysbek, who showed a great desire to win. As for Dmitry Zisko, it was his debut in WSB and his opponent was very strong, so it was very hard to win. Soon we will compete against the British team, which didn’t let us into the finals last year, and we wish to take our revenge for the last season’s defeat,” said Astana Arlans’ head coach Nurlan Akurpekov.

WSB is a league that sees the world’s best amateur boxers competing in teams without headgear and using the scoring system of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA). According to the WSB website, the appearance of the league “reunited the broader boxing world and its grassroots amateur foundation by providing a bridge between Olympic Boxing and a future professional programme within the AIBA family.”

AIBA wholly owns WSB. All WSB boxers are registered with AIBA and all referees and officials working WSB matches are specifically certified for the competition. Franchises have a national identity and are formed by national federations. Teams are allowed a quota of overseas boxers: a maximum of eight and no more than three of the same nationality.

Teams compete in the 10 AIBA standard weight categories. The regular season takes the form of a league phase, with the teams facing each other home and away in alternating weight categories. The top teams continue to the playoff stages. Teams representing franchises across the globe compete in a league format leading to playoffs and a final. The boxers compete in five three-minute rounds and five bouts per match.

The Astana Arlans club was founded in 2010. In the first season, the club’s boxers proved themselves as one of the strongest teams in the world. The team is a two-time WSB champion. It won the third season in 2012-2013 and the fifth season in 2014-2015. With two titles apiece, Arlans and Cuba’s Domadores lead the league in titles won.



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Kazakh archers beat South Korean Olympic champions in first stage of 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup


ASTANA – Kazakh archers, heavy underdogs who have never been on the podium at the World Cup or World Archery Championships, beat an Olympic trio from South Korea May 21 to win its first-ever 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup stage in Shanghai, reported worldarchery.org.

Kazakh Denis Gankin (ranked 43rd before the stage final and climbed to 42nd), Oibek Saidiyev (129th, 113th) and Sanzhar Mussayev (175th, 138th) beat champions Oh Jin Hyek, Kim Woojin and Im Dong Hyun in the final shoot-off.

“We still don’t believe we won the archery world cup stage,” said Saidiyev after the final. “It feels great to win gold. We prepared for it. We did it.”

South Korea, which has reigned since modern archery was introduced into the Olympics in 1972, has won 23 gold medals in the event, more than any other country or any other Olympic sport in the nation’s history. South Korea also leads in all-time tallies in tae kwon do and short track speed skating in the winter Olympics.

Saidiyev noted the main aim of the match was not just “beating Korea, but to shoot well for Kazakhstan, to show that we have good archers and let the rest of the world see us, too. Working on executing our techniques and making clean shots was our goal throughout the competition.”sha17_x17_7215

South Korea shot 57 points to Kazakhstan’s 50 to easily win the first set, according to worldarchery.org. The Kazakh archers rallied in the next sets to turn some heads.

“Kazakhstan swiped the second series, 55-54, after London 2012 winner Oh Jin Hyek send down a pair of eights. But South Korea looked safe when the third went the favourite’s way, 56-50, and needed just a draw in the fourth set to win gold. Both teams shot 28 out of a possible 30 for their first three arrows. Korea finished badly. Nines each from of Im and Kim left Oh needing something strong, but he sent down an eight,” wrote the website.

Gankin shot 10, Mussayev shot eight and Saidiyev’s final 10 sent the set into a tie breaker, where Kazakhstan shot three nines to beat the Olympic champions.

“They shot well and put on a great performance. I would like to congratulate them on winning,” said Oh.

“They showed their ability to compete against any nation. It’s good for Kazakhstan, but it’s also a good opportunity for the Korean team, as we have to learn to be wary of all our opponents,” he added.

Earlier, Kazakhstan beat the U.S. 5-3, Russia 5-4 and Japan 5-4 to reach the finals.



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