Teen girl wrestler fights only men

Published On: Friday, January 4, 2013 3:00 AM
By: David Ross
Aisuluu Tynybekova
(Scroll down for video) There is no woman in Kyrgyzstan who can live with Aisuluu Tynybekova on the wrestling mat.

Her sparring partners are all male, and at least 10 kg heavier than her and the best hope of the nation of Central Asia for a medal in the Olympic Games in London.

It is a story familiar to the economic student of 19 years old. Growing up in her remote mountain village, Tynybekova helped on the family farm and played basketball with the boys.

Her mother, a pediatrician, banned her from practicing karate.
"It was not accepted in the village. There were no classes for girls sports," she says. "I was in ninth grade about 15 years old when I discovered that girls also wrestled."

Tynybekova was studying in Bishkek, capital of the former Soviet republic, when she was discovered by a former wrestler who is training her for the Olympics.
"I met Aisuluu in the hall of the college wrestling," said her coach, Nurbek Izabekov. "I realized this energy, pigtailed girl in the field and it was clear to me that she was not fighting for the first time.
"I saw a skilled, hardworking girl with a great desire for success."

Twice a week, Tynybekova leads to the mountains of the valley outside Bishkek Alamedin, running 10 miles through the valleys of wild roses over 1,500 meters above sea level. She drinks kumys, fermented mare's milk, for inner strength.

She sleeps after lunch before afternoon weightlifting and wrestling in the room a stone's throw from the apartment she rented on the edge of Bishkek.

In London, she will compete in the freestyle 63 kg category. She trains with men in the 74kg weight class."I train with men because it is more difficult," she says. "They are on a different level than I am and I need that for my development. In my weight class, I have a training partner in Kyrgyzstan."

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