By Laman Ismayilova
The 35th European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics will be held in Baku on May 16-19, bringing together gymnasts from 35 countries. At the four-day championships, senior female gymnasts will perform in the individual program, while junior gymnasts will compete in the group exercise program.
In the run-up to the championships, President of the European Union of Gymnastics (UEG) Farid Gayibov said that this year’s European Championships’ season was opened last month by the Polish city of Szczecin which hosted the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships on April 10-14.
"We were very pleased to have the Europeans back in Poland, 50 years after the last Europeans in 1969. I would like to express my gratitude to the Polish Gymnastics Federation, the Local Organizing Committee and our partners for the joint efforts directed to the successful delivery of this competition," said Gayibov.
He added that in Szczecin, a real-life version of the European Union of Gymnastics’ mascot Luigi was presented for the first time. His enthusiastic, and sometimes naughty, behavior got big smiles from gymnasts and fans. It also served as the last qualifying competition for the 2nd European Games.
“I was very happy with the performance level of our athletes. Although the competitions went smoothly, there were some difficulties. We will work on these issues to avoid them in future," Gayibov added.
He also noted that the World Cups in the Olympic disciplines concluded their series by now.
"I had the opportunity to be present at the final of the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup organized in Baku on April 26-28. With the conditions provided for the event, the organizers demonstrated that they are ready for the 35th Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships to be followed by the 11th Aerobic Gymnastics Europeans (May 24-29)," said Gayibov.
UEG President stressed that the number of participating countries increased significantly in Olympic disciplines.
"For the first time, we had 18 participating countries in the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Cup held in Puurs in April. It shows that non-Olympic disciplines are also developing. This is great news before the year’s major event, the European Championships in this discipline to be held in Holon at the end of October," he said.
Gayibov also added that the 2nd European Games Test Events in all gymnastics disciplines were successfully organized in Minsk last month.
"The facts show that 2 months before the competitions, Belarus is ready to host the participants of the Games," he said.
UEG President noted that at the end of April, he will set out for St. Petersburg to take part in the FIG Executive Committee meeting followed by the meetings of the FIG Council on May 2-3.
"Inspired by the great hospitable atmosphere, we commenced our discussions and very important decisions were made at the Council meeting. Along with the allocation of FIG events and meetings, issuing specific handbooks containing all rules for each discipline, the Qualification system for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games was approved. And a new format of the World Championships in Rhythmic and Artistic Gymnastics, coming into force from 2021 and 2022 respectively, was introduced," he said.
Gayibov added that this format implies qualification for the World Championships through the continental ones. The new introduction offering limited number of participants will reduce the number of Worlds’ event days from 15 to 11 days in Artistic Gymnastics, while, in Rhythmic Gymnastics, they will save 2 days (5 instead of 7).
UEG president noted that thus, the continental Championships will enter into a new phase of its progress and will be more attractive to the audience, media, TV, sponsors and other stakeholders.
"A few days later, the FIG President was elected as a member of ASOIF’s Council. I would like to congratulate Mr. Morinari Watanabe and the gymnastics community with this great news. Coming back to our events, I am sure that our athletes in Rhythmic & Aerobic Gymnastics will be influenced by the Aero Rhythm beat competing on one and the same Field of Play in the coming weeks and will demonstrate confident performances which will make gymnastics fans proud and happy," he concluded.
Meanwhile, speaking about the 35th European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics, Secretary General of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation (AGF) Nurlana Mammadzade told Trend that a grand opening ceremony is awaiting spectators of the Championships.
She said that the European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics will start at the National Gymnastics Arena on May 16 and will last for four days.
"Spectators will witness bright and exciting performance of gymnasts. After the opening ceremony, competitions will be held among junior teams in group exercises. We invite all gymnastics fans to attend the European Championships," she said.
Mammadzade noted that at the European Championships, Azerbaijan will be represented by a team of juniors, which showed good results at the AGF Junior Trophy, the International Tournament in Rhythmic Gymnastics in Baku on April 20-21, 2019.
"At the previous AGF Junior Trophy International Tournament, the Azerbaijani team won medals in group exercises," she said. “The same team will represent our country at the upcoming European Championships.”
As for the senior female gymnasts performing in the individual program, Azerbaijan will be represented by Zohra Agamirova and Veronika Hudis. Zohra Agamirova reached the finals at a number of latest competitions.
“Our female gymnasts are seriously preparing for the European Championships, and we expect good performance from them," Mammadzade concluded.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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