PARIS, September 10, 2018 - The intercontinental Astana-Paris bike marathon 'Sport without Limits', for visually-impaired and blind cyclists across Kazakhstan, recently came to a memorable end in the French capital near the Kazakh Embassy.
Launched more than a month ago at the Kazakh Eli monument, a unique project helped 17 brave and persistent people, including visually-impaired cyclists and volunteers, to cross more than 5,000 kilometers and visit over 30 cities in six countries - Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, and France. According to the initiators of the bike marathon, under the slogan 'The World of Unlimited Possibilities', its objective was to show that Kazakhs with disabilities were able to achieve the most daunting goals and motivate everyone to engage in regular sports activities and lead a healthy life. Throughout their journey, the athletes felt tremendous support from all who met them along the way, and even welcomed three more cyclists in Germany, who joined the contingent on the way to the finish line.
The final part of the bike marathon started at the bust of the Kazakh politician and publicist Mustafa Shokay in Nogent-sur-Marne. The route passed through many landmarks in the Paris region and the capital itself, including Avenue des Champs-Élysées and other tracks along the final route of the Tour de France. Ambassador of Kazakhstan to France Jean Galiev and members of the 'Diplomacycles' Association of Cyclists of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France joined the courageous athletes on the final route in order to support them.
Near the Arc de Triomphe, the cyclists were welcomed by Jeanne d'Hauteserre, Mayor of the eighth arrondissement of Paris, Alain Néri, Honorary Senator and former professional cyclist, Alain Siclis, head of a Paralympic foundation, as well as representatives of the Kazakh student youth population, diaspora, French friends of Kazakhstan, diplomats, and their families.
As Ambassador Galiev noted, “we are sincerely happy to see you at the finish of your long and difficult path, on which you overcame many difficulties, but also met a lot of kind and sympathetic people. Initiatives such as yours really work to bring peoples and cultures together, contribute to strengthening Kazakhstan's positive image abroad. It is symbolic that the bike marathon united Astana and Paris in the year of celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Strategic Partnership between Kazakhstan and France. After all, your achievement is another contribution to the development of Kazakh-French sports and humanitarian cooperation."
While passing through cities and countries, the cyclists met with associations supporting disabled people, representatives of sports organisations, local authorities, as well as hundreds and thousands of ordinary people, showing that even if you do not see a clear picture of the world, you can still pursue your goal. The project participants urge all of us, both healthy and those with special needs, to follow your dream, to be a proactive member of society, to dispel existing stereotypes related to individuals with disabilities, and to promote the modern culture and achievements of Kazakhstan.
It is worth recalling that in each country on the route, the diplomatic missions of Kazakhstan arranged for meetings with fellow countrymen and local para-athletes, and facilitated their safe movement along the roads.
The 'Anashim' charity fund for children and youth was established in 2001, and deals mainly with the socialisation of disabled persons with sight difficulties. The fund has implemented many successful projects which have helped people with special needs to achieve their goals. With the support of the fund, 'Sport without Borders' was introduced in 2016, and two marathons for visually-impaired and blind cyclists, 'Almaty-Astana' and 'Almaty-Issyk-Kul', have been carried out in the framework of the project.