Eighteen athletes selected for Ashgabat 2017
29 June 2017
ASHGABAT 2017: A team of eighteen athletes have been selected to become Australia’s first ever competitors at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat this coming September.
The Australian team will contest three sports – weightlifting, wrestling and taekwondo – as one of 45 participating nations competing in the Turkmenistan capital.
Chef de Mission of the Australian team and president of Wresting Australia, John Saul, said the AIMAG opportunity for Australia’s youthful team will be an invaluable experience.
“Asia is really one of the hubs for martial arts and strength sports,” Mr. Saul said.
“With some of the world’s leading countries like Iran and Japan being there as well as the host country, Turkmenistan, it’s going to be a fabulous tournament, a real learning experience for our people.”
The Olympic village and competition venue are located in central Ashgabat, and the 30-venue Ashgabat Olympic Complex will provide a realistic Olympic like experience for Team Australia.
“Being a Games environment, rather than a Championships environment, means everyone is on site so our team is around the world’s best athletes not only during training sessions but also during living and recreation time,” Saul continued.
“We will be able to see just how committed they are and what their training regime is like, and once our young athletes see that, they start to learn what they really need to be working towards to reach that same world class level.”
The Australian Olympic Committee is sending eight teams away to Olympic, Youth Olympic and regional Games over the next five years. CEO of the AOC, Matt Carroll, said occasions like the AIMAG create Olympic-like experiences to develop Australia’s future sporting stars.
“The AOC thanks the Ashgabat Organising Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia for their invitation to participate in the Games,” Mr. Carroll said.
“Regional Games provide events for the AOC to pursue opportunities in Asia for our member sports to develop young talent into future Olympians.
“This young Australian team will not only benefit from the international exposure and Games-like experience in Ashgabat, but the opportunity to mix with Asia’s best in weightlifting, wresting and taekwondo will motivate them to pursue their short and long term sporting goals, with many of them eyeing Tokyo 2020,” he said.
Among the six wrestlers selected include Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games wrestlers Rupinder Kaur and Carissa-Jane Holland, who will compete in their respective female 48kg and 53kg categories.
While Kaur and Holland will provide some guidance for the younger members, Saul said the international exposure is what the team needs.
“Our sport is very small in Australia and the athletes are going to get some experience they otherwise would not have… and hopefully this will be very beneficial when they come up to 2020 and we compete in Tokyo.”
High Performance Coordinator of the Australian Weightlifting Federation, Brandan Kennedy, said the six weightlifters, with an average age of 23, have been selected based on their future potential to be Australia’s best.
“They’re our up-and-coming athletes that we see contesting future Olympic and Commonwealth Games, so it’s a good chance for them to get experience on the international stage to prepare them for that journey,” Mr. Kennedy said of the selected team, which includes current Australian Champions Jacob Marquardt (Male 49kg) and Brandon Wakeling (Male 69kg).
“For some of them they haven’t actually been on an international trip before, so while they’re moving up the ranks in Australia, it’s a chance to experience being on an international team, being in the village, being part of a complete team – not just a weightlifting team – and representing Australia.”
President of Australian Taekwondo, Joelie Chisholm, agrees the exposure will be of great benefit to the taekwondo athletes who vary in experience and age.
“The Australian Taekwondo Team is a good mixture of experienced athletes at the international level and those who are developing,” Ms. Chisholm said.
“We have two athletes on the team who were at the 2015 Pacific Games – Keshena Waterford and Deanna Kyriazopoulos – but for some of them it will be the first time in a multi-sport and village environment, which is invaluable experience if they have aspirations for Tokyo 2020.
“The AIMAG will be a great opportunity for high quality international exposure for our athletes.”
The 2017 Ashgabat Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will be held 17-27th September 2017.
Australia’s Ashgabat 2017 AIMAG Team:
Will Afonczenko M-63kg
Ruth Hock F-67kg
Deanna Kyriazopoulos F-46kg
Adam Meyers M+87kg
Cameron Taylor M-80kg
Keshena Waterford F-49kg
Ridge Barredo M105kg
Jocelyne Francken F69kg
Matthew Lydement M105kg
Jacob Marquardt M94kg
Sofia Zudova F75kg
Brandon Wakeling M69kg
Ariadne Burkhart F58kg
Connor Evans M74kg
Carissa-Jane Holland F53kg
Rupinder Kaur F48kg
Liam Neyland M65kg
Petrus Palm M57kg