Sabina Altynbekova's beauty causes a storm
In some of the odder news of the week, a teenage volleyball player from Kazakhstan has caused an unwelcomed fan frenzy, and not because of her athleticism, but because of her beauty.
Sabina Altynbekova, 17, unwittingly gained a group of fervent Taiwanese fans when playing at the IVB Asian Under-19 Championship in Taiwan last week. Her star then spread across Asia and the internet, rapidly: and apparently all the adoration is upsetting her team, and the player herself.
"It is impossible to work like this," Nurlan Sadikov, coach of the nation's under-19 team that Atlynbekova plays for, told Tengrin News. "The crowd behaves like there is only one player at the championship."
According to the Straits Times, Taiwanese fans were turning up to games an hour early and waving Kazakh flags, all just to get a glimpse of the six foot tall athlete.
YouTube videos of her warming up have gone viral with some garnering over 770,000 views (and her name returning about 5,000 results). About half a dozen Facebook groups have begun, a Twitter account in her honour has amassed over 20,000 followers in just a week and fan art and memes are popping up all over the internet.
The coach said the team's efforts were "hampered" by the mania. The new star herself is, understandably, a little perturbed by it all:
"I was flattered at first but it's all getting a little bit much," she told Tengrin News of the wildfire of homage focussed on her looks. "I want to concentrate on playing volleyball and to be famous for that, not anything else."
Her team came seventh in the tournament.