Let The Games Begin

Documenting the athletes of the World Nomad Games for Patek Philippe magazine.

Far away from Kyrgyzstan's dusty capital, Bishkek, on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul and in the mountains of Kungey Ala-Too, a gathering of people occurred - the 3rd bi-annual World Nomad Games.

Athletes and spectators from 80 countries congregated in central Asia to battle for medals in sports that have been preserved over the centuries by nomadic people.

Archers from Hungary rubbed shoulders with Mongolian wrestlers, while on the shores of the lake, the sport of Kok Boru was the biggest draw of the games, a tumultuous form of Polo between two teams of horseback riders, tussling to score goals with a goat carcass instead of a ball.

I spent a week in the region, documenting some of the participants and observing at first hand the fierce competitiveness that endures in these lesser known pursuits.

Eliza Tynalieva is an athlete who perfectly embodies the crossover of modernity and heritage. Eliza performs at a high level in modern competitive Archery, and also coaches youngsters in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

3 years ago, Eliza followed in the footsteps of her Grandfather and started to explore the Nomadic archery disciplines, using a wooden bow and arrows and competing in traditional costume. At the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan, she took home a silver medal.