"Qishloq Ovozi" was off for break for a couple of weeks but wanted to belatedly congratulate Delphine Cousin, as well as Parahat Arazmedov, Orazmyrat Arnamamedov, and Saryhan Sapayev.
Are those names unfamiliar? They were competing in the leg of the PWA World Windsurfing Tour that was held in Turkmenistan from July 1 to July 6, but of course the event faced stiff competition for an audience from other sporting events going on in the world. Something was happening in Brazil, for example.
Cousin won the women's slalom event at Turkmenistan's Caspian seaside resort of Awaza. Arazmedov, Arnamamedov, and Sapayev were contestants from Turkmenistan. Victory in the men's slalom went to 12 competitors and that leads me into the topic I really want to explore: how did Turkmenistan fare in holding the windsurfing event?
"Qishloq Ovozi" noted that Turkmenistan would hold the event last March when the pro-government website turkmenistan.ru reported it.
There seemed to be many questions about whether the Hermit Kingdom would be prepared to host such a sporting event. Turkmenistan is not known for its windsurfing, but is known for its reluctance to allow foreigners, especially foreign media, into the country.
Before proceeding I should mention I do not know much about windsurfing, certainly not as much as I know about Turkmenistan, so a lot of this is new for me.
The PWA website recapped the daily progress of Awaza PWA World Cup Turkmenistan, so though I couldn't attend I see that on Day 1 (July 1) the event opened "after a fantastic opening ceremony with the president of Turkmenistan."
Unfortunately, and unbelievably, it rained and no competitions could be held.
Day 2 was more promising and despite delays caused by several lulls in the wind and "a problem with seaweed in the starting area, which is causing a bit of havoc," several heats were held.
The wind was insufficient for most of Day 3 but after some 10 hours conditions improved enough to hold more heats. Conditions were not good enough for windsurfers to compete on Day 4, but despite the lack of racing "the beach is bustling with people as entertainment continues."
On Day 5 it was a "glassy start to the penultimate day of the Awaza PWA World Cup, with almost not a breath of wind" and no heats were held that day. Day 6 was the same and the event concluded.
Here is where my lack of knowledge hurts. Is two of six days of adequate conditions enough to qualify as a success and bring the Windsurfing Cup back to Turkmenistan in the future?
Of course, for me personally it's a great disappointment that there are no photographs of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov gliding across the Caspian on a windsurfing board.
But the PWA site did have some photographs of the World Cup at Awaza and even if Berdymukhammedov was not personally out there pounding the surf, his portrait featured in several shots.
I especially liked photograph 27 of Lena Erdil claiming her prize for third place, with a smiling Berdymukhammedov gazing over her left shoulder, but there were several interesting pictures of Awaza, Turkmen "volunteers" at the event, and the audience and media watching the cup.
SPECIAL NOTE: "Qishloq Ovozi" wishes to congratulate colleague Abubakar Siddique on his new book "The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key to the Future of Pakistan and Afghanistan." Abubakar runs RFE/RL's Gandhara website, bringing news and information about Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is a kindred spirit who provided valuable insight, contributions, and help to QO as well.
-- Bruce Pannier