2015 successful year for Azerbaijani gymnastics

By Amina Nazarli

2015 was a very successful year for the national gymnastics, as the country gained 157 medals during last year.

Rhythmic gymnasts could distinguish among the athletes, winning 81 medals overall. Men’s Artistic Gymnasts comes next with 32 medals followed by acrobats scoring 15 medals. Women’s Artistic Gymnasts won 11 medals, and, finally, representatives of trampoline gymnastics and aerobic gymnastics scooped 9 medals each.

Marina Durunda, an 18-year-old Azerbaijani rhythmic gymnast of Ukrainian origin, has scored the highest number of medals, finishing 2015 with 22 hauls. Just one medal was in the account of her team-mate Zhala Piriyeva and a gymnast Oleg Stepko, who was ranked first in the list of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation.

Undoubtedly, the first European Games, one of the major competitions of the continent held in Baku last summer, was the most significant event of 2015.

Stepko became the only Azerbaijani gymnast to win five medals, including one gold on parallel bars, at this great sport festival. He gained one more medal in a team competition together with Eldar Safarov and Petro Pakhnyuk.

The national athlete, Ilya Grishunin, was honored with bronze in trampoline gymnastics competitions and Durunda gained silver in Rhythmic Gymnastics for her performance with a ribbon.

In general, ribbon turned out to be Durunda’s most successful 'tool' last year. She won bronze in exercises with a ribbon under the "Fantasy" musical composition of the great composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli at the European Championships.

Last year, the national acrobats for the first time won medals at the European Age Group Competitions. The silver was claimed by men’s pair Seymur Jafarov and Murad Akbarov and the bronze by mixed pair consisting of Aghasif Rahimov and Nurjan Jabbarli.

2015 was remembered by the debut of the national gymnasts on the world arena. Thus, Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation fulfilled its plan on gymnastics disciplines development and now, all seven gymnastics disciplines acknowledged by the International Federation of Gymnastics are being developed in the country.

President Ilham Aliyev presented a flat to Gulsum Shafizada, a two-time Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships prize-winner.

The Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation was acknowledged to be the best federation and the iconic 9,000-seat National Gymnastics Arena, designed to host all gymnastics disciplines declared the best Arena by the Azerbaijan Youth and Sports Ministry in the country last year.

Moreover, the sixth General Assembly of the Federation took place in Baku in December, where Azerbaijan’s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva was re-elected as its president.

Altay Hasanov will proceed his activity as the Vice-president, while Rauf Aliyev and Rafig Beybutov will continue to be the members of the Executive Committee. Mariana Vasileva became the Committee’s new member.

Now all national athletes are preparing for 2016, which seems to be not an easy one. The national athletes will take part in different international events, the European and World Championships, and most importantly Durunda and Stepko obtained a license to compete at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.

Rhythmic Gymnastics team and representatives of Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics still enjoy a chance to be qualified for Rio 2016 for

Baku will host three World Cup series including Artistic Gymnastics in February, Trampoline Gymnastics in March, and Rhythmic Gymnastics in July.

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Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli

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