Triumphant for Uzbekistan, the Summer Olympic Games in August in Brazil have demonstrated that national sports have reached a new, higher quality and higher level of development, and Uzbekistan is turning into a regional sports nation.

Representatives of Uzbekistan returned from Rio de Janeiro with four gold, two silver and seven bronze medals, which is an absolute record for all 25 years of independent development.

The brilliant performance of athletes at the Olympic Games brought Uzbekistan to the 21st place in the overall medal standings among 207 countries. Now we rank the fourth in Asia, second in the CIS and the first in Central Asia! On average, every fifth compatriot, who went to Rio de Janeiro, returned to homeland with the Olympic prize.

Step by step, stage by stage, we moved toward the sensational victory. Since the first years of independence, Uzbekistan has become an active participant of the international Olympic movement, and members of the national team decently represented their young state.

Rates of establishment of the Olympic movement in the country and promotion of its ideas have earned high recognition of international sports organizations. The first President of Uzbekistan was awarded the highest award of International Olympic Committee, Olympic Council of Asia, Association of National Olympic Committees for outstanding achievements in this field.

National Olympic Committee of Uzbekistan has been actively promoting the development of physical culture and sports, cultivation of healthy lifestyles in the society, ensuring participation of Uzbek athletes in four-year games. Our athletes won six gold, five silver and ten bronze medals since 1996 in the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, and since 1994 - in the Winter Games in Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin, Vancouver, Sochi. The delegations of Uzbekistan decently perform in the continental games, Junior Olympic Games, World University Games, world championships.

A huge work has been done in this direction in recent years. For example, founded under the National Olympic Committee in 2013, the Olympians Support Foundation of Uzbekistan invested billions soums (currency rates of CB RU from 21.09.2016, 1$= 3005.11 soums) for reconstruction and equipping of sports facilities and centers, enhancement of professional skills and financial incentives for athletes, social support of distinguished and talented athletes and coaches. 14 high sports schools for world-class athletes will be opened under a specially developed program in 2016 in the capital and all the regions.

Summing up the failure at the Olympics in London in 2012, Uzbekistan built specific plans. In particular, a targeted action program envisaged preparations at different levels, ranging from the construction of training arenas and conduct of competitions and training camps abroad, to a new system of incentives for athletes and their coaches, and creation of unique medical and psychological support systems.

All the abovementioned measures have brought to success in 2015, when Uzbek athletes won 15 medals in the world championships in various disciplines. For example, in recent years, our taekwondo athletes won in 118 prestigious tournaments. 2015 was particularly rich in awards: Dmitry Shokin became a world champion in the weight category over 87 kg for the first time in the history of Uzbekistan, and won the gold at the World Student Games. There are many of such examples.

The question that has to be answered is what is backed by the success at the Olympic and world arenas? The answer is obvious: it all comes to the great attention to the development of sports, and children’s sports in particular.

Children's Sports Development Fund of Uzbekistan was established 13 years ago. Over the years, it has turned into the key structure that contributes to raising a healthy generation. More than 1,700 sports facilities have been built over the period of its operation. Having such a huge amount of work done behind its belt, the unique structure confidently reaches its goals through a comprehensive approach to the development of sports, ranging from the construction and equipping of sports facilities in all regions to promotion of healthy lifestyles and raising champions.

Sports have become an integral part of life of our families, gaining a foothold in the minds of people. Today, parents bring their children to sports clubs by themselves. Involved in sports, boys and girls grow up healthy, strong and resolute, changing their outlook.

Targeted programs for 2016 have scheduled to build and renovate 221 sports facilities - sports centers, gyms at general schools, swimming pools at the expense of the Fund. The future champions are offered training facilities with the latest kinds of inventory and tools for their full-scale training. It is also envisaged to replace the worn-out and obsolete equipment in 337 sports complexes and 3,774 school gyms, which were commissioned in previous years. The Fund has already signed contracts of delivery with domestic manufacturers of sports equipment.

Active physical training, participation in competitions from an early age cultivate perseverance, the ability to concentrate, sports passion and desire to surpass oneself, develop the psychology of a winner. Good health and persistent leadership will constantly accompany a child in his life.

Competition is obviously the best training. Following this truth, regional branches of the Children's Sports Development Fund make the agenda of competitions in a way that the maximum number of young athletes could try themselves.

SCDF branches organized nearly 10,000 sports competitions in different kinds of sports, 80% of which were held in rural areas. The number of young participants exceeded 2 million, including more than 820,000 girls, mostly rural, who also fought for awards. Initiated by SCDF, the competitions are also important in terms of revealing and selection of talented, promising candidates for adolescent district, municipal, provincial and national teams. Besides, specialists of sports federations, as well as famous athletes hold master classes. They shared valuable guidance and advice with over 265,000 children.

The participation of young athletes in 44 international tournaments in various sports is ensured by the schedule for the current year. Uzbek athletes have won 274 awards, including 125 gold, 75 silver and 74 bronze medals. These victories are essential in terms of promotion of sports. Looking at champions, their peers, dream of reaching a high pedestal, and multiply the glory of the motherland in the sports arena.

According to experts, the development of sport and physical education has a so-called delayed effect. The lack of proper attention is sure to ‘backfire’ in 8-10 years, if deprived of stadiums, swimming pools and coaches, a generation comes into maturity.

As doctors say, children get healthier after a few months of regular exercise: lung capacity increases, the cardiovascular system develops correctly, the enhanced blood circulation improves brain activity. As a result of large-scale measures that have been practically embodied in the physical development of the younger generation, the children involved in sports are an average of 50% less likely to get sick with colds and viral illnesses, their posture and physical parameters have improved. Today, the 14 year boys correspond to World Health Organization standards in growth indicators. Their average growth has increased by 2.8 cm over the past decade.

The professionalism of coaches also contributes to the achievement high results. The approach to training of highly qualified coaches has been revised, specific resolutions have been approved, a new effective system of stimulating their work was introduced, the prestige of the profession has significantly grown. Over the previous decade, the number of sports mentors and coaches has increased by one and a half times as much, and representatives of the fair half of humanity - by 3,8 times.

The ongoing targeted programs on the development of children's sport that focus on engaging each child in regular classes, shape consciousness of the younger generation, helping to strengthen the faith in their own power. A fiendly atmosphere in sports clubs and complexes, good conditions, as well as a frequent opportunity of training side by side with famous athletes also produce a favorable effect on future champions. By communicating with them, they realize that taking pains and improving themselves they will also be able to hit the world pedestals.

The international recognition of records and victories of Uzbek athletes, the culture of a healthy and active lifestyle in the population, a unique infrastructure that provides access to training for millions of willing people across the country, suggest that sports in Uzbekistan are mass and prestigeous, and of high performance.

The progress of Uzbekistan is studied by different countries, experts conduct research and exchange with experience. There is a global response on the achievements of the country, and especially of women's sport.

Over the past quarter of a century, Uzbekistan has made a significant breakthrough in this field. Over the years of independence, the public opinion about women's sports was positioned as the basis of harmonious education, preservation and strengthening of children’s health, and the nation as a whole. The work done can be perfectly exeplmified by the fact that 52 Uzbek atheltes took part in the Olympic Games prior to independence, while 333 our compatriots, including 82 - female athletes, performed in five Olympic Games since 1996. The rapid growth of women's sports capacity is also clearly reflected by the fact that 567 women participated in 165 international competitions last year out of a total of 1,668 Uzbek athletes.

Sports infrastructure has been streamlined year by year. The measures on ensuring the comprehensive development of the younger generation under national programs have been expanding accessibility of sports, promoting its relevance in society and prestige of women’s sports education. The number of female entrants at the Uzbek State Institute of Physical Culture and physical education departments in regions has been growing. This was largely contributed by the opening of women's sports direction at the Uzbek State Institute of Physical Culture.

Every year, UZSIPC enrolls 200 girls from different regions of the country under the quota. They are offered an excellent academic building, well equipped gyms and playgrounds, an information and resource center. There are many members of national teams of the republic among the girls studying at UZSIPC.

The fact of a stable demand for female coaches is worth of mentioning. It reflects the dynamic development of women's sports around the country. 24% of urban girls and 22% rural girls attended regular sports in 2005, while by 2015 their number has doubled, amounting to 47% and 44.7% respectively. The number of female coaches has increased by 3.8 times against 2005. The institution of 15% of monthly allowances to tariff rates was a powerful incentive for their motivation.

All kinds of sports have been dynamically developing in Uzbekistan. A whole galaxy of champions has grown as a result of strong public support. Each district runs its own youth sports school. Sport is available for almost all the children, even in remote rural areas. They are offered modern conditions, and a chance to grow to the professional level. Numerous Children and Youth Sports Schools are attended thousands of young men and women. Yesterday’s timid newcomers grow into renowned athletes there. Specialized schools that apply the latest methods of organizing the training process, training a reserve and high class athletes for national teams of Uzbekistan, distinguish from common sports schools.

For instance, the Specialized Children and Youth Sports School of Olympic Reserve № 4 in Mirzo-Ulugbek district of the capital ranks among the foundries of future champions for the national team in gymnastics, trampoline and acrobatics. It provides decent conditions for high-level training. Athletes are trained by skilled coaches. SCYSSOR cooperates with sports federations, and daily trains about three hundred people. Classes are held accurately by schedule. The gym with a capacity of 120 people is always full.

National high sports schools have been considerably contributing in training of national team members. There is an ongoing targeted work to streamline their activity, strengthen their logistical capacity, and train highly qualified coaches.

In conclusion, it is worth to mention a sociological study, which was conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center Ijtimoiy Fikr. Its specislists found out what do citizens think on the results of performance of Uzbek athletes in Rio.

More than 99% of respondents noted that sports have entered a new, high level, and the outstanding achievements of athletes at the Olympics is the result of changes in the years of independence.

The study also showed that Uzbeks followed the Olympic competitions with great excitement and believe that the country's national team performed excellently at the games in Rio and achieved an outstanding progress. 99.3% said that our Olympians have surpassed all the darest expectations of their fans and sports fans.

When asked about the feelings caused by the brilliant results of the Olympians of Uzbekistan, the majority answered that "their heart was overfilled with pride and joy of victories" and that they "were satisfied with the performance of our athletes and happy for the worthy representation of independent Uzbekistan."

(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)