By Nigar Orujova
The first ever European Games were truly a great success for our gymnasts, said Altay Hasanov, the Vice-President of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation.
“Despite referee bias, gymnasts managed to contribute to the overall victory. Our gymnasts won 7 medals in the Games and this is an outstanding success,” he said in an interview to Azertag state news agency, while commenting on results of the first European Games and performance of Azerbaijani gymnasts.
“As you know, the assessment of artistic gymnastics performance depends on subjective judgment of referees. Each referee has an individual approach to performances so the assessment is not always objective. We have faced this for many years,” he said.
Hasanov emphasized that Azerbaijan pays special attention to the development of all sports, including gymnastics.
“We are very strong competitors. Therefore sometimes our opponents create artificial obstacles. It is in particular felt in referees' biased assessments. We faced this in the first attempt. Our team got low points despite good performance in the rhythmic gymnastics team event. Other teams received higher points to close our way to final,” Hasanov noted.
The vice president went on to add: “Then our federation decided that this injustice should be dealt with. It is time to put an end to it because we have faced it for several years. This time we prepared for the Games in the best manner. However, the judges did their jobs again and I was forced to protest on behalf of the Federation.”
“Of course, it has discouraged some athletes and they failed to put up good performance in their second attempt. Therefore, considering all this we focused on the individual competition and began serious preparations with gymnast Marina Durunda. Her trainings went well. Marina was also psychologically affected by injustice but we succeeded to overcome the psychological tension and she successfully performed to win a silver medal hugely supported by the home crowd,” he said.
Hasanov hailed the development of gymnastics in Azerbaijan: “Indeed, the development of gymnastics in the country started in 2002 after First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva was elected President of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation. National Gymnastics Arena was built and opened in 2014 in accordance with instructions of the Azerbaijani President. This magnificent sports facility is unique in Europe. In addition, state-of-the-art sports complexes have been built in the regions through government support.”
He also applauded the role of Azertag state news agency as the official media partner of the inaugural European Games.
“Azertag really made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of the Games and played an immense role in ensuring the extensive coverage of the event. Azertag was always in the lead of the media. In particular, we eyewitnessed high professionalism of Azertag in terms of coverage of the Games. Thank you very much for having coped with this important and responsible task. I would like to express my special gratitude to Azertag for its work,” Hasanov added.
The inaugural European Games has gathered over 6,000 athletes to compete in 20 sports in Baku on June 12-28. Russia won the overall ranking of the Games with 164 medals, Azerbaijan became second with 56 medals followed by the Great Britain with 47 medals.
Azerbaijani gymnast Oleg Stepko brought the country five medals, one gold, two silver, and two bronze medals in artistic gymnastics. Moreover, Marina Durunda got silver in rhythmic gymnastics and Ilya Grishunin brought a bronze in the trampoline.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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