This past couple of weeks has been a whirlwind of activity! On the 3rd of July we said goodbye to Uzbekistan for the last time this year! Our four months has flown by so quickly, and it still feels like we have only just scathed the surface of what we learned under Coach Sucrobs’ tutelage. We all saw huge improvements in our lifting and all of us achieved the goals we set out to meet when we first arrived. The training in Bukhara was definitely the hardest any of us have experienced, but even through all of the blood sweat and tears we know it was worth it.
We departed Bukhara via the Afryosan fast train which took us only 3 hours from Bukhara to Tashkent rather than the normal 10 hour night train. Upon arrival in Tashkent we set off to the holiday destination of Charvak which is north east of Tashkent and lies on the border of Kazakhstan (you can see snow capped mountain ranges in the distance).
Charvak is a popular holiday destination for Uzbeks as it provides breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, a beautiful freshwater lake with jet skiing, speed boating and tube riding available!
Our R&R saw us lounging around the pool, eating shashlik, drinking some fine Uzbekistan beer (The team favourite being Baltika 7) and enjoying the beautiful weather and view! Our original plan after our break in Charvak was to stay the remainder of the trip in Tashkent and do some site seeing however, it was not to be! We were invited to compete in a strongman and kettlebell competition in Andijan!
We were very excited to be invited to the competition however one thing we were acutely aware of was how close we would we be cutting it time-wise. Our schedule meant we would be arriving back in Tashkent less than 4 hours before we needed to head to the airport to catch our plane to Moscow, Russia.
Just when we thought we would be having a quite night of preparations prior to our departure to Andijan, our friend Ruslan caught wind of our movements and requested we have one last night of celebrations replete with dinner, karaoke and an all night bar! There is now video proof that no one in Team Atletika can sing, and we hope for our image that those videos never see the light of day!
With many good memories and a little worse for wear after a fun filled night, we began our drive to Andijan at 2pm in the afternoon.
Our journey to Andijon was a 5-hour car ride through winding mountain passes and multiple government checkpoints (we were required to get out of the car and register at every check point we went through) Andijan is situated in the far south-east of Uzbekistan next to the Fergana Valley and is a beautiful city framed with lush greenery.
We were told that the competition was international and had competitors from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and now, Australia! We were not quite aware of how big it was until we arrived in Xonobod (the location of the competition in Andijan) and there were posters everywhere of the Australia flag!
Competition day was very, very interesting! The competition in our perspective was a minor detail in our Andijan visit. The sheer degree of excitement of us being there from the Andijan community took us by complete surprise, as there were television crews, government officials and a substantial crowd of people there. We were even given a very special welcome to the city complete with gifts of traditional robes and hats as we were introduced as honoured guests.
The competition itself was very exciting with the team doing exceptionally well!
Sarah Gulyamova walked away with second place in the women’s division in the strongwoman competition.
Tommy and coach Ricky both placed first in their divisions in the kettlebell competition.
Overall, a very satisfying end to our time in Uzbekistan!
With little time to spare after the competition we began our 5 hour car journey back to Tashkent, each of us very worn out and slightly anxious that we would shortly be saying goodbye to our home for the past four months, Uzbekistan.
A final pack of our luggage, a quick shower and a thirty-minute nap and we were all piled into the two cars on our way to Tashkent airport. The hardest thing for us, leaving this amazing country was saying goodbye to coach Ricky’s family. Without their support we would not have been able to make this training camp a reality, and we most certainly would not have been as well fed!
Our time here has given us a great deal of experience to take home and a wealth of knowledge to share with our friends and family back home in Australia!
The next leg in our journey places us in Taganrog, Russia where we meet up with more of our Atletika Team mates as we have a two week training camp at the famed David Rigert Weightlifting Academy!
Until next time, keep training hard!
Team Atletika – Taganrog, Russia