Tokyo, Japan, May 13, 2016 – Kazakhstan women’s team star Lyudmila Anarbayeva is hoping to put her lengthy spell on the sidelines behind her as her side prepare to battle for a Rio 2016 Olympic Games spot at the FIVB Women’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament 2016 in Tokyo, Japan.
The 32-year-old has spent six months recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury but is now fighting fit to help her side claim a first Olympic berth since Beijing 2008.
“I had a torn cruciate knee ligament. In last year, I did an operation in Almaty. It was my first serious injury in sport career,” she explained. “After six months, I recovered. Now I am in an excellent state of health. I’m ready to play and help the team in WOQT”
However coach Vyacheslav Shapran – who has returned to coach the team for a second time having led them to the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2006 and an Asian Championship silver medal in 2005 – knows qualification will be a tough ask.
“There are no weak opponents,” he said. “This tournament is held in a circular system, and it means you have to play all rivals and have seven games. They will all be difficult. Everyone wants to get to the Olympics and all teams will arrive with the strongest squads. Teams play there together for a long time and therefore are united.”
Injuries and personal reasons meant Kazakhstan arrived in Japan with a depleted team missing key players such as Korinna Ishimtseva, Olga Nasedkina, Marina Storozhenko, Inna Matveyeva and Tatyana Mudritskaya.
“We had to create a new team,” Shapran added. “All experienced players who have experience in major world competitions this time could not play. We have a young and promising team. I like to work with them, they are training hard and preparing for games.”
Despite the setbacks, preparation has been good for the side. A training camp was held in Almaty from April 10 to May 4 before the side flew to Korea for a friendly match which they lost in straight sets (25-15, 25-20, 25-14).
Recent years have seen Kazakhstan improve on the international stage. A bronze medal at the Asian Championships in 2011 was followed up by the same result in 2014. Add to that their performance at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2014 where they qualified for the second round, and the future looks bright for the side.