TARAZ – Kazakhstan plans to host the Asian Winter Games — and a man on a motorcycle is spreading the word.“We will succeed in drawing attention to the Asian Games,” motorcyclist and maslikhat deputy Dmitry Petruhin said. “I am sure of it.”
Petruhin, the president of the Almaty Motorcyclists’ Club — which has more than a thousand members — is motorcycling through Asia and advertising Kazakhstan, host of the games, to officials, sport fans and ordinary people. The games will take place January 30 – February 7, next year.
Petruhin, who said he has official support, got the job because of his extensive travel experience.
He travelled around the world in 2006 and crossed through the Middle East in 2007-09, telling everyone about the Asian Games.
Petruhin’s 2010 itinerary includes Afghanistan, China, Hong Kong, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. He began his odyssey in February and is now in Hong Kong, soon to leave for Macau.
“I just came from China”, he said. “The trip in that country was so remarkable because I am the first motorcyclist officially allowed to ride across China on my iron horse”.
Petruhin shows his audience pictures, gives them souvenirs, talks to them about Kazakhstan and invites them to the Asian Games.
“All the people of these different countries kindly welcome us”, he said. “When I tell them about the trip, many, of course, are surprised. ‘How can you do this on a motorcycle?’ But they treat me with a lot of respect when they hear it”.
“I meet quite a spectrum of people — officials, politicians and ordinary residents. And, by the way, almost everyone wants to take a photo with me”, Petruhin said.
He was in Thailand during the riots in May, he said. Even there, he found an opportunity to talk about Kazakhstan.
Barnstorming on such a scale is physically and psychologically difficult, but Petruhin is glad to enlighten the world about his country. This trip is far more important than his round-the-world journey in 2006 since he now needs to draw as many visitors to the Asian Winter Games as possible, he said. “I am proud of this mission”, he said.
Petruhin said he has not forgotten about his work in the maslikhat: “New technologies allow me to always be in touch with my assistants, who are presently working at a community liaison office”, he said. “No matter what, I answer everyone.”
Petruhin has seen how other countries develop their sports, and it has inspired him for the future: “Upon my return, I would like to open athletic-technical clubs for children — particularly those without opportunities — to learn about technology, play sports and lead healthy lifestyles”, he said.
Petruhin speaks at schools, clubs and official institutions. He also organises exhibitions, press conferences, and meetings with officials.