By Gary Anderson

July 16 - Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, Turkmenistan-welcomes-OCA-flag 83814370013581President of Turkmenistan, has received the flag of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) at the Incheon 2013 closing ceremony to mark the nation's hosting of the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG).

Ashgabat will host the fifth AIMAG, which will be the largest international sporting event held in the former Soviet state, in four years' time.

The 2017 games also represent the first time the AIMAG will have been staged in central Asia.

"One of our goals is to bring the sports system of Turkmenistan in compliance with the increased demands of the present day, to popularise sports and a healthy lifestyle, to train athletes and coaches to an international level, to improve the legislation in the sphere of physical culture and sports, as well as to produce a physically and spiritually healthy generation," Berdimuhamedow said.

The 2013 AIMAG was the first time the two separate Games were merged in to one event as previously the Asian Indoor Games and the Asian Martial Arts Games were held individually - the Indoor Games were held in Bangkok in 2005, Macau in 2007 and Hanoi in 2009, while the Martial Arts Games were held in Bangkok in 2009.

This year's event saw China top the medal list with 29 gold medals followed by hosts South Korea with 21.

Weiji Zhong L honorary vice President of OCA hand over OCA flag to Orazov Batyr RSports Minister of Turkmenistan during closing ceremony of the 4th AsianWei Jizhong, OCA honorary vice-president (centre, left), hands the OCA flag to Turkmenistan Sports Minister Batyr Orazov during the Incheon 2013 closing ceremony 

Turkmenistan's athletes finished Incheon 2013 with seven medals overall, including two golds, and Berdimuhamedow, who was elected in 2006 following the death of former President Saparmurat Niyazov, praised the achievements of the Turkmen athletes before welcoming the 2017 AIMAG.

"Outstanding achievements of the state policy aimed at developing physical culture and sports in the country became a major requisite for the decision of the Olympic Council of Asia for holding the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat in 2017," he said.

"With the aim of holding this large-scale international sports event in Ashgabat at a high level, the largest Olympic Village in Central Asia, including a complex of various sports facilities, is under construction in Ashgabat."

Contact the writer of this story at gary.anders[email protected]


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