Kuchkarova to Represent Home Country of Uzbekistan in Asian Games

Yulduz “Yulya” Kuchkarova kicks off another world competition experience tomorrow as she represents her home country of Uzbekistan, swimming the 50-meter backstroke in the Asian games. A similar event to the Pan-American games, the Asian Games take place in Incheon, South Korea highlighting more than sixty sports in an Olympic-style event. Kuchkarova will use this meet in preparation for World Championships next summer and Rio in 2016.

A well-traveled athlete, the Jayhawk sophomore’s resume boasts competitions around the globe including the 2010 Asian Games, 2012 London Olympics and countless national-level competitions. Kansas head coach Clark Campbell and Kuchkarova have spent only a few weeks preparing for the games, but believe having big-meet experience will help immensely.

“Yulya had a pretty big break after her last summer meet,” Campbell said. “When she got back on campus we started preparing for the Asian games because it was finalized that she was going. The training window has been very short. We usually like to have a few months to get ready for big meets, with this one we had a few weeks.

“She had a really good summer with a lot of good times. If she’s anywhere close to what she went in July, we’ll be really happy. She’s confident; she’s been there and done that with the Asian Games so the first-meet jitters of an event this big shouldn’t be there.”

Kuchkarova will swim the 50-meter backstroke on Tuesday, 100-meter backstroke on Thursday and 200-meter backstroke on Friday. In the United States, the majority of the year is swam in yards while summer season is swam in meters. Everywhere else in the world, meters are used all year long. Also in the United States, 50-meter events are not normally competed—with the exception of the 50 freestyle and 200-medley relays.

“Her 50 back is important for us because of the 200 medley relay,” Campbell said. “It’s a long course (meter) meet so they won’t have a turn, which makes it a little bit different than the 50 back here, but it’s all about start, underwater, and getting your hand on the wall the fastest. She’s gotten better at everything. She’s four years older than she was the last time she went to this meet, she’s gotten stronger, her underwater work has gotten better and she can carry a higher and faster tempo than before.”

Campbell himself is not new to the international competition scene. As a former professional triathlete and coach, he has been to multiple world events including three world championships.

“They’re incredible experiences, you learn a lot,” Campbell said. “You get a chance to see where you stack up against people from all over the globe. Whenever you get an opportunity like this, as a coach or an athlete, you always take advantage of it. It’s so unique and it’s a very special part of an athlete’s career to represent their country and compete against the rest of the world.”

Campbell and the team look forward to watching Kuchkarova compete and see how her times compare to where she was this summer. It’s all part of the experience, and as Campbell says, “It’s all a part of the steps that we take to get to Rio in 2016.”

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