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Do it like Iceland, Kyrgyzstan's leader motivates Olympic athletes

Europe
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Moscow (dpa) - Kyrgyzstan‘s President Almazbek Atambayev gave a motivational speech to his relatively small country‘s 19-strong Olympic team departing for the forthcoming Games in Rio - and called on them to follow the example of Iceland.

"Do it with team spirit. Do it like tiny Iceland, which at the European football championship defeated England," Atambayev said in the capital Bishkek, according to comments carried by local media on Wednesday.

Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet republic in Central Asia and has a population of about 6 million people - less than London‘s. Atambayev advised his people to celebrate every victory.

"We have no oil resources, but we have our people who can accomplish great feats. May you be lucky in your pursuit for medals," Atambayev, 59, said in his speech.

Luck might be needed if Kyrgyzstan is to expand on its haul of three medals (one silver and two bronze) since it started to compete independently at the 1996 Games.

Atambayev, who has ruled the country on the border with China since 2011, is considered exotic among the heads of state in Central Asia. Recently, he recorded a music album with 10 songs he wrote in Kyrgyz and Russian.

Atambayev has said he would prefer not to run in the country‘s presidential election next year, to "pursue a creative activity" instead.

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