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Astana, Kazakhstan • 19 December, 2023 | 16:48
3 min read

Daryn Shirbayev – First Kazakh Athlete to Qualify for Mr. Olympia in Classic Physique

Bodybuilders from 54 countries took part in IFBB PRO/NPC Worldwide INVICTUS - a grand-scale qualifier tournament in Astana

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Daryn Shirbayev (photo by Gaidar Iskakov)
Daryn Shirbayev (photo by Gaidar Iskakov)

Bodybuilding events in Kazakhstan play a pivotal role in shaping the nation's entertainment landscape, leaving an indelible impact on the country's positive image. These events not only showcase the physical prowess and dedication of athletes but also serve as a platform for promoting health, discipline, and the pursuit of excellence.

As the competitions draw audiences from diverse backgrounds, they create a sense of unity and pride among the spectators. The aesthetic and athletic nature of bodybuilding poses captivate audiences, contributing to the development of a vibrant entertainment sector. The events, often accompanied by cultural performances and celebrations, foster a sense of community and bolster Kazakhstan's reputation as a host for world-class sporting spectacles.

In turn, this positive image attracts attention on the global stage, boosting tourism and reinforcing the country's commitment to fostering a healthy and dynamic society. Through the lens of bodybuilding, Kazakhstan emerges as a beacon of fitness, sportsmanship, and cultural richness, leaving an enduring mark on the entertainment landscape and contributing to the nation's positive portrayal internationally.

On November 25, INVICTUS hosted a large-scale bodybuilding tournament in Astana — IFBB PRO Qualifier for professionals and the NPC Worldwide PRO Qualifier for amateur athletes. The IFBB PRO tournament marked a milestone as the first sporting event in Kazakhstan enabling athletes to qualify for Mr. Olympia in Classic Physique Pro and Figure Pro categories.

One of the highlights of the tournament was the victory of Daryn Shirbayev in the Classic Physique PRO category. Thus, Shirbayev has become the first Kazakh athlete to take part in the most significant international bodybuilding competition Mr. Olympia in this category. In the women's Figure category among professionals, the victory went to Kristina Bodnariuk.

After the victory, Daryn Shirbayev thanked on his Instagram page everyone who supported the athlete in preparation for such a demanding competition:

Thank you to everyone who sent words of support and followed my preparation all this time. I share this victory with you... Emotionally it was tough. Performing at city-scale tournaments, later at national and international events, and becoming a prize-winner there, I had an idea, a dream - to participate in Mr. Olympia. It was 10 years! Guys, for 10 years I have been moving towards my goal. To everyone who sets goals and does not abandon them, I want to say with confidence: Your persistence will be rewarded! The key is not to give up! Don't betray your goal!

shared Daryn with his followers.
Photo by Gaidar Iskakov
Photo by Gaidar Iskakov

Speaking of the amateur competition, the NPC Worldwide INVICTUS Qualifier gave athletes from over 54 countries the opportunity to win sponsorship support and a PRO card, which allows them to qualify for professional tournaments. This year's winners and PRO card holders are Jessie McPhee (Women's Figure), Shuai Ren (Men's Classic Physique), Eldos Kozybaev (Men's Physique), Vladislav Moshkin (Men's Bodybuilding), Tatiana Veber (Women's Bikini), Alexandra Anufrieva (Women's Wellness).

In general, the tournament in Astana was held in 8 categories of athletes among men and women: Bodybuilding, Classic Physique, Women's Physique, Fitness, Figure and Wellness, Men's Physique, Bikini. The organizers of the tournament are Center Podium (the world's leading producer of NPC and IFBB Pro League bodybuilding events) and Invictus Group - a network of fitness clubs.

Although the dream of every bodybuilder is to win Mr. Olympia, winning the qualifying tournament gives a lot of other great opportunities for athletes to prove themselves on the professional stage.

As a reminder, the athletes who won PRO cards in the INVICTUS tournament last year competed at Legion Sports Fest in Nevada on October 7-8, 2023. In that tournament, Daryn Shirbayev achieved a remarkable third place in the Classic Physique Pro category. At the same time, another Kazakh athlete Aisha Kaipova secured a well-deserved 3rd place in the Bikini category. Elena Sandaevskaya clinched 5th place in Wellness, and Tatiana Altergot, an absolute winner of the NPC Pro Qualifier, showcased her prowess and skills in Figure.

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