“Despite the fact that our sportswomen and sportsmen had all the training opportunities to perform better in the Olympic Games and all international competitions, their performance [at the London Olympic Games] was really bad. They did not win any awards,” Berdymukhammedov said in a televised speech on state television on August 16.
Not one to shy away from offering a good public shaming, Berdymukhammedov promptly shut down the Tourism and Sports Committee, which was responsible for the Turkmen Olympians, and set up a new committee dedicated strictly to sports.
Future Turkmen athletes should not worry about their colleagues' failures because, after all, they will have every opportunity to excel in the new disciplines that Berdymukhammedov has in mind.
“The new type of sports like hockey have to be introduced in Turkmenistan,” the Turkmen leader said.
Berdymukhammedov has had his eye on ice hockey for a while now. But in a country where almost 90 percent of the land is desert and temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius, ice-related sports are quite unusual.
Other sports Berdymukhammedov believes Turkmen should excel in include (but are certainly not limited to): ice dancing, horse-related sports, biking, and rowing.
At this year’s Summer Olympic Games in London, the 10 Turkmen athletes competed in boxing, swimming, athletics, weightlifting, and judo. Maybe in four years, ice dancing and rowing will bring more luck to a country that has never won a single medal at the Olympic Games since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
-- Deana Kjuka & Muhammad Tahir
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