The 30th European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics will be held in Azerbaijan's capital on June 13-15. The breathtaking sports event will bring together 258 gymnasts from about 33 countries competing for nine sets of awards in Baku.
Two juniors, two seniors, as well as a team in the group exercises will represent Azerbaijan at the competition.
On the eve of the tournament, Trend interviewed the Vice President of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, Altay Hasanov, who spoke about the team's preparations, the overall gymnastics development in the country and more.
Q.: The rhythmic gymnastics is gradually becoming a business card of Azerbaijani sports. Our gymnasts achieve top spots at prestigious international tournaments. What is the secret of success?
A.: Over the last few years gymnastics in Azerbaijan has been really developing at a fantastic pace. Just take a look at the roster of our team, where the number of local trainees is steadily increasing. Along with this, we are gradually becoming the rivals for the world's leading teams at top-level competitions. Azerbaijan has only recently joined the international gymnastics family, but it is already beginning to achieve outstanding results. All this testifies to the unprecedented development of gymnastics in Azerbaijan. Our success in gymnastics proves that with the right approach and proper management, it is possible to achieve success in any sphere.
Of course, all this would have been impossible to implement without the personal involvement of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation's President, Mehriban Aliyeva. Her enthusiasm, great personal contribution, team care, and efficient management of this sport's development, have become the keys to success. Undoubtedly, her contribution to the international gymnastics movement and development of sports in our country can hardly be overestimated.
It should be noted that the results at tournaments, are of course important. Besides that, the main goal is the mass scale of this wonderful sport in Azerbaijan. As our federation's president says, the attention to gymnastics in cities and regions of the country is part of a long-term strategy. Gymnastics classes are already filled not only in Baku, but also in the regions, so significant progress on a mass scale has already been made.
Q.: What can you say about the preparation of our team for the championship?
A.: The current Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championship will be the third one of the Old World, held in Baku. The tournament will be one of the biggest recent sports events in gymnastics. Some 33 countries have submitted bids to take part in it. The competition will be tough, and 258 gymnasts will compete for nine sets of awards. This will be an exciting event and we invite the residents and visitors of the capital to witness all this at the new National Gymnastics Arena.
Q.: Naturally, we all cheer for our team, and wish them the best of success. How do you assess the level of preparedness of Azerbaijani athletes for these championships?
A.: Our team is fully prepared for the tournament. Head coach of the rhythmic gymnastics team, Mariana Vasileva has created a determined, united and, most importantly, talented team. At the same time, we gradually begin to deal with so-called "pleasant problems".
The competition for joining the squad is growing, and several really good gymnasts with great potential do not make the team. But we create all the necessary conditions for further growth, and I am sure that the competition for joining the roster greatly strengthens our team.
Q.: You said Azerbaijan has just recently joined the international gymnastics family, but it is already achieving outstanding results. Were there any outside attempts to create problems that could affect the situation in the national team?
A.: It is clear that some competitors are sometimes jealous of our recent success. Maybe the dynamics of our development just scares some people. We understand this because this is sports and everyone wants to win. However, the use of ugly and unsportsmanlike methods against us is sometimes frustrating. On the other hand, all this is unlikely to affect our progress, and we are not particularly worried. The only thing we wish of our rivals is to arrive in beautiful Baku and please the residents with their best performances.
Q.: What about Azerbaijan's gymnastics community? Is there any negativity?
A.: Mostly, no. The employees of the federation, coaches, athletes, technical staff and everyone somehow related to the rhythmic gymnastics, are working as a single, united family. Everyone has one goal - to develop the rhythmic gymnastics in Azerbaijan.
But, we do have our small problems, just like everywhere else. For example, there is a group of the so-called "offended" coaches, who believe they understand gymnastics better than anyone else. They have sky-high ambitions but their level is an amateur one. Some of these coaches were in demand at the early stages of gymnastics in Azerbaijan, but today the rhythmic gymnastics in our country has approached high international standards, which in turn, requires high coaching standards. Instead of self-improving and raising their qualification, and the federation does offer such opportunities, these coaches are engaged in small intrigues.
However, such attempts to cover up their low qualification level can't affect the gymnastics development process, and the successful performances of our teams in international tournaments at all levels. The gymnastics is destined to become one of the most popular kinds of sports in Azerbaijan.