Askar soldiers on for badminton in Kazakhstan
Askar Ormanov is the live wire of Kazakhstan badminton although the former Russian state is not a badminton powerhouse just yet. Kazakhstan was born when Russia broke-up in 1991.
Leave it to Askar, a former national singles and doubles champion with Artur Niyazov in 2008 and 2009 who went into coaching in 2001 after finishing his university studies.
Today he holds a BWF Level 1 and Level 2 coaching certificate and if successful will soon be recognised as a BWF Level 3 coach - which will be another milestone in his badminton career.
Incidentally, he achieved both his coaching status in Kuala Lumpur. And Kuala Lumpur will again feature prominently if he succeeds in getting his Level 3 coaching certificate.
About three weeks ago he was one of the candidates who attended the first-ever BWF Level 3 coaching course organised by Badminton Asia. The pilot project, a first in the world, was held in Cyberjaya, Malaysia.
Askar is the "jack of all trades" for Kazakhstan badminton and you can rely on the bubbly father of four to get things done for his country when it comes to anything to do with the game.
He is a popular figure in badminton tournaments, especially in Asia - thanks to his close links with Badminton Asia. The Asian badminton body has always lent him and Kazakhstan badminton a helping hand in its bid to take the game to a higher level.
Currently the 37-year-old is not only the general manager of Kazakhstan Badminton Federation but he is also the national badminton coach. With Askar around Kazakhstan is on the right track in the shuttle game with an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
A Sports Science graduate of South Kazakhstan State State University, Askar and Kazakhstan badminton have embarked on a journey to "battle" with boxing, wrestling, weightlifting - the most popular sports in the country.
"There were times we trained in different shoes because of the financial crisis which hit the country after the break-up of Russia. We repaired own racquets using screws," said Askar as he reflected the tough times.
"We earned only USD50 a month and all goods became very expensive. It was really difficult during winter when we had no power for heaters."
But for the love of the game, Askar and company pulled through, training on four wooden courts in Shymkent City.
Today, 18-year-old Dmitriy Panarin is the national champion and the highest ranked player from Kazakhstan. In the latest BWF ranking list, Panarin is ranked No 17. In the Badminton Asia Junior Championships, he was seeded sixth.
Panarin was in Jakarta competing in the Badminton Asia Junior Championships held in Bintaro, Jakarta. The other men players were Damir Abdullayev and Kemran Tajibullayev.
The women players were Aisha Zhumabek and Iya Gordeva.