Kazakhstan's athlete becomes Internet sensation 31 июля 2014, 13:49
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Sabina was born in 1996 in the city of Aktobe (western Kazakhstan). Now she lives and studies in Almaty in southern Kazakhstan.
Sabina Altynbekova is part of Kazakhstan's Junior Volleyball Team. The team was taking part at the 17th Asian Junior Women's Volleyball Championship in the city of Taipei from July 16-24, when Chinese fans noticed her. From the very beginning of the championship, the young athlete was in the spotlight because of her appearance: she looks very much like a character from Japanese anime. Her Instagram account was a rise from 100 followers to over 180 thousand in just several day. Most of her new fans are from South East Asia. Later, her name began to appear in the Western media, too.
The Kazakhstani athlete was quite surprised at her rapidly growing popularity. "Honestly, I was very surprised, because I am an ordinary girl from Kazakhstan who just wants to be useful to her country at international competitions. And this amount of fame really stunned me, " Sabina said in an interview to Vesti.kz.
Sabina said that she was getting a lot of attention while in China, but it all started happening for no particular reason and the change of attitude towards her changed is just a matter of days left her startled.
She said that she had no Twitter account and recently deleted her Ask.me account. "My real profiles are only in Instagram and Vkontakte. But there are a lot of fake accounts, and I do not know why people do this," Sabina said.
Besides, she shared her impression from the championship where Kazakhstan's team ended up in the 7th place. The winners were China, followed by Japan and South Korea. "All the participating teams were very strong. I especially liked the Japanese team and how disciplined it was. Even though they completed the championship in the 2nd place, they had a clear goal to win it. And if its main players had not been injured, they could have won," the Kazakh athlete said.
Sabina Altynbekova is planning to continue her career in volleyball.
"The real benefit of my new popularity is that people learn about Kazakhstan, and some of my fans are already making pictures with Kazakhstan's flag and are following our progress in sports," Sabina said.
However, according to the coach of the Kazakh national team Nurlan Sadykov the popularity of only one member of their team causes some problems. "We, of course, are very pleased that our girl is turning heads of thousands of people and it is very good for the country. But other players are not feeling very comfortable, became one member gets all the attention, and the others are thrown into the background," the coach said.
Not only the coach is concerned about Sabina's rapidly growing popularity, but also her mother Nurila. "We are very worried about it. Her popularity is alarming me," Sabina's mother said.
She told Vesti.kz that Sabina became involved in volleyball when she was 14 and trained along with her school studies and dance classes. She didn't have any free time for herself or her personal life. She used to play for Kazchrom volleyball team of Aktobe Oblast (in western Kazakhstan), and later she was offered a transfer to one of the teams of Astana, Almaty and Karaganda cities.
"We persuaded her to choose to Almaty. She has been playing for the Almaty volleyball club since the age of 16. Sabina graduated from high school, successfully passed the National Testing and was enrolled into the Kazakhstan Humanitarian and Law University," the mother of the young athlete said.
Sabina's parents wanted her to become a lawyer, but she chose sports. "The coaches have high expectations on her. I am aware that she was offered a career in modelling, but as her parents we are against this career," Nurila said.
Writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina
Sabina Altynbekova on Chinese TV: