Bishkek hosted a presentation of RAID GAULOISES, which will start in Kyrgyzstan on 10 June 2003. A few days ago a suburb of Bishkek saw the first qualification round to select candidates for the Kyrgyz National Team.
RAID GAULOISES is an extreme multi sport regarded as an elite international adventure competition along with the Camel Trophy, Salomon X-Adventure, and ECO Challenge. It is not just a sport, it also discovers new places for adventure tourism for the world community.
Hosting this major international event will give Kyrgyzstan - and the entire Central Asian region - international exposure and advertisement in the international tourist market. The event will gather about 300 foreign journalists guaranteeing about 300 hours of international television coverage in 14 languages, plus radio, the press, and the Internet. This is free advertisement for Kyrgyzstan, whose only task is not to obstruct the competition organizers and prepare its national team to participate in the raid.
The contest to be held in Kyrgyzstan is officially called X-Adventure RAID SERIES RAID GAULOISES and is actually the final round of the world multi-sport championship for the best sportsmen selected in qualification rounds all over the world. One or two years after hosting RAID GAULOISES, a country usually hosts a similar competition organized in North America, to maintain international interest in adventure in this country for another year or two.
So Kyrgyzstan has another chance to receive a place in the international elite (without large financial investment). As the host country, Kyrgyzstan has been given a Wild Card - the berth in the finals without participating in the qualification rounds. The country only has to make up its national team and prepare it for the finals.
The State Committee of Tourism, Sport and Youth Affairs of Kyrgyzstan has established a National Multi-sport Federation, which is responsible for the team's preparation. The Federation has a Coaching Council headed by Alexander Gubayev, a well-known Kyrgyz mountaineer and traveler. With the help of Stephane Aubree, representative of the RAID GAULOISES directorate, the Coaching Council has access to information required for the preparation of the team and contacts with other multi-sport federations. Currently, the Kyrgyz Federation is looking for sponsorship assistance and technology for the team's training.
The Coaching Council has used a simple and democratic way to form the national team - to invite all those wishing to participate. The Federation received some 100 applications from representatives of different sports: from mountaineering to modern pentathlon and biathlon. Forty athletes aged between 20 and 56 (members of the Federation of Mountaineering and Rock-climbing, the Kyrgyz Mountaineering Club, students of the Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University and the Medical Academy, athletes and simply people of an active lifestyle) took part in the first qualification round on February 3. To eliminate the weak, the organizers got the participants to cover a 9.5-kilometer distance through mountain terrain, with altitudes of up to 600 meters.
In less than an hour, the coaches selected the 20 best athletes who will continue the qualification tests for berths in the Kyrgyz National Team.
By Peter Chernyak, The Times of Central Asia, February 13, 2003