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Uzbekistan: Olympic Disappointment Has Political Ramifications in Tashkent

Taymazov’s wrestling gold was a rare bright spot for Team Uzbekistan during the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

When members of Team Uzbekistan returned from the London Olympic Games last month, they were hailed at the airport by cheering crowds and enthusiastic television news coverage. But sports fans are grumbling, complaining that Tashkent’s lumbering, centralized way of managing sports is to blame for a disappointing medal harvest.

Represented by 54 athletes competing in 13 sports, Team Uzbekistan won a total of four medals -- one gold and three bronzes -- at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Wrestler Artur Taymazov came home with the gold, his third consecutive Olympic medal in the men's 120kg freestyle. Rishod Sobirov won bronze in the 60kg men's judo, Soslan Tigiev scored a bronze in the men's 74kg freestyle wrestling, and Abbos Atoev also received a bronze in the men's middleweight (75kg) boxing.

Uzbek officials often use international sports competitions to score political points, and London was no exception. "The participation of our athletes in the London Olympics and their achievements are a result of the extensive attention President Islam Karimov has paid to the development of sports,” said an August 29 statement distributed by the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

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Uzbekistan: Olympic Disappointment Has Political Ramifications in Tashkent

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