Young Uzbek sports talent inspired by Hangzhou Asian Games Fun Run

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The Hangzhou Asian Games Fun Run kicks off in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Nov 5. [Photo provided by the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee]

The future of Uzbek sport took a break from their daily routine to take part in the Hangzhou Asian Games Fun Run in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Nov 5.

Children from the Olympic and Paralympic Reserves College in the capital Tashkent took part in the three-kilometer run to promote the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, which will be held from September 23 to October 8, 2023.

Among the milling crowd of hundreds of excited boys and girls aged between 11 and 17 years was Nurmukhammad Ochilov, who hopes that one day he will be representing his country at the Asian Games.

“That is my dream. I watched the last Asian Games in Indonesia (2018 Jakarta and Palembang) and closely followed how my country performed. One day I hope I too can participate in the Asian Games,” said the 14-year-old soccer player.

The Olympic and Paralympic Reserves College is home to more than 600 students, all of whom have been talent-spotted and train in one of 25 Olympic sports as well as 11 non-Olympic sports. It is the only college dedicated to sports in the capital, although there are other similar institutions throughout the country.

Shakhrillo Makhmudov, Uzbekistan Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Sports, who graced the occasion, said: “One day I hope many of you will go on to represent Uzbekistan at the Asian Games. Today, we are here to celebrate this event that will take place in China next year and I wish you all the best.”

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Participants of the Hangzhou Asian Games Fun Run receive gifts. [Photo provided by the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee]

Tony Tarraf, OCA Head of Athletes Development Department and Special Projects, welcomed all the children to the Fun Run, saying: “We’re here to promote the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games. We’re here to promote the values and principles of sport. We’re here to run, so let’s enjoy the fun.”

At the last Asian Games, which Nurmukhammad watched, Uzbekistan finished fifth in the medal standings with a total of 69 medals, including 20 golds, 24 silvers and 25 bronzes.

The men’s soccer team lost in the quarterfinals to South Korea. Perhaps at the 20th edition in Aichi-Nagoya in 2026, there might be a mid-fielder by the name of Nurmukhammad on the team, fulfilling a dream that was born when his country hosted the Hangzhou Asian Games Fun Run.

Also attending the ceremony was Uzbekistan NOC Secretary General Oybek Kasimov and OCA Director of Project and Administration Affairs Wissam Trkmani. Both Tarraf and Trkmani also took part in the 3-km event.

All participants received a certificate.

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