By Abdul Kerimkhanov
The closing ceremony of the Baku 2019 Summer European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) was solemnly held at Baku Crystal Hall on July 27.
The Festival in Baku will remain in memories for a long time since Azerbaijan has proved once again its excellence in organizing high-end international events. This was clear from the opinions of the specialists, media representatives as well as athletes and other guests who visited Baku during the Festival.
The closing ceremony became a great end of this bright event. Just like the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony was held at Baku Crystal Hall. Leyla Aliyeva, Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, attended the ceremony.
Volunteers brought national flags of the competing countries. The flags were brought in alphabetic order with exception of Greece – home of the Olympic Games – and the host country Azerbaijan.
Baku 2019 Summer EYOF highlights were screened afterwards.
This was succeeded by speeches from Azerbaijan's First Deputy Prime Minister, chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 15th Summer European Youth Olympic Festival Yagub Eyyubov and Vice President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) Niels Nygaard.
Addressing the grand event, Eyyubov noted that Azerbaijan is famous for hosting big international sport events and thanked the President of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev for helping realize Baku 2019 EYOF.
Eyyubov expressed his confidence that the athletes competing in Baku 2019 EYOF will one day win European and Olympic games and will make everyone who was responsible for Baku 2019 EYOF proud of the fact that these athletes achieved their first victories in Azerbaijan.
In turn, Nygaard said the Festival in Baku is a huge experience for these athletes and a big sport holiday for them. He also expressed his belief in future victories of Baku 2019 EYOF athletes. Then, Nygaard expressed his gratitude towards the volunteers.
After official speeches ended, International Olympic Committee flag as well as flag of European Olympic Committees were brought to Olympic anthem.
Flag of European Olympic Committees was handed to Jan Nosko, mayor of Slovakia’s Banska Bystrica, which will hold the next 16th Summer European Youth Olympic Festival in 2021. The national flag of Slovakia was raised afterwards to the national anthem of Slovakia.
Nosko spoke about famous people and athletes from Banska Bystrica and invited everyone to the next host city. A promotional video was screened afterwards.
Thus, the 15th Summer EYOF flame was put out. Creative part of the closing ceremony started afterwards. It included performances by local pop artists Aliya Aliyeva and Kamran Aliyev, Fidan Huseynova, Lyaman Dadashova, Emiliya Yagubova, DJ Kanan and 2011 Eurovision Song Contest winner Eldar Gasimov.
As for the results of the Baku 2019 Summer European Youth Olympic Festival, the grand tournament was won by the Russian team. The country took the first place in overall medals table with 28 gold, 17 silver and 21 bronze medals. Great Britain took second place with 11 gold, 12 silver and two bronze medals. Turkey made it to top three with 11 gold, six silver and 10 bronze medals.
The national team of Azerbaijan won 10 gold, seven silver and six bronze medals, settling in the fourth place.
Azerbaijani athletes Khasay Hasanli, Hasrat Jafarov, Elmir Aliyev, Gurban Gurbanov, Farid Sadikhli, Jabrail Hajiyev, Kanan Heybatov, Murad Hagverdiyev, Turan Bayramov, Huseyn Mammadov brought gold medals to Azerbaijan in judo and wrestling.
At the same time, Marziya Sadigova, Elnura Mammadova, Gultakin Shirinova, Sabir Jafarov, Abulfaz Nasirov, Vugar Talibov and Samad Mammadli grabbed the silver medals of the festival.
National athletes Nigar Mirzazada, Nihat Mammadli, Mirjavad Nabiyev, Gulshan Bashirova, Maharram Imamverdiyev, Shukran Zamanli, finished performances in third place and were honored with bronze.
Azerbaijan made a remarkable start holding the first spot in the medal table for a long time thanks to the great performances of wrestlers and judokas. However, then Russia took the first line and remained there until the end of the Festival.
During the festival, more than 2,000 athletes from 48 countries competed in 10 sports. As many as 27 countries managed to win the gold medals of the Festival, 37 countries were among medalists, and only 11 countries left Baku without medals.
Azerbaijan was represented at the festival with 122 athletes, the majority of which were wrestlers and athletes. In these sports, Azerbaijan was represented by 18 athletes each. In addition, the national team included 12 judo athletes, four rhythmic gymnastics, six cyclers, four tennis players, and six swimmers. In volleyball and basketball teams there were 12 national athletes each. Besides, there were 30 players in Azerbaijan handball team consisting of boys and girls.
EYOF is the first top European multi-sport event aimed at young athletes aged 14 to 18.
The event takes place under the Olympic flag and is rich with Olympic traditions: from the burning flame to athletes’ and officials’ oaths. It is at the EYOF that many of Europe’s inspiring sports stars of tomorrow take their first steps on the international stage.
The EYOF teaches the values and ideals embodied in the Olympic Charter, educates and motivates youth to do sport and adopt a healthy lifestyle. It is a meeting point for young athletes from 50 European countries.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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