By Amina Nazarli
Last weekend Baku had the honor to host the first in a series of five FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Cup events of the 2016 season with brilliant show of the world’s elite gymnasts.
Some time ago, it was hard to imagine that the country will be able to hold this kind of elite competition. Few people in Azerbaijan knew about the existence of this type of gymnastics, which was included in the Olympic Games only in 2000.
Azerbaijan has begun to turn into the recognized force in trampoline, and the first big success came exactly within the native walls, when Azerbaijani gymnast Ilya Grishunin won the bronze medal at the European Games 2015. The team has already had leaders who are fully prepared to fight for the top places at major tournaments.
For the past few years, the capital has become the venue for many significant and unforgettable competitions, and two weeks ago, the National Gymnastics Arena hosted very significant event -- the FIG World Challenge Cup in Artistic Gymnastics for the first time in the sporting history of the nation.
Vice-President of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation (AGF) Altay Hasanov said that the organization of such magnificent sporing festivals in Baku in fact marks entering of the national gymnastics into a new stage of development.
U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert Cekuta told Trend that he witnessed how sport is important in Azerbaijan both during the First European Games and Trampoline Gymnastics.
He also shared the impressions of the U.S. gymnasts and delegation members at the FIG World Cup, noting that the gymnasts were surprised of the beauty of the National Arena, and noted they haven’t seen such an arena before.
“There are many arenas in the US, there are even small arenas in towns, but none of them are comparable to the one in Baku,” Cekuta stressed.
Belarusian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Gennady Ahramovich also agreed that the arena is wonderful venue for holding high-level events.
Belarusian gymnast Hanna Harchonak, who won gold at the World Cup, in turn, could not hide her happiness, saying it’s a great gift to win a medal in Baku.
“The program is difficult, the rivals are also strong. To be honest, I didn’t expect to win the gold medal,” Harchonak stressed, pointing out that Azerbaijan once again showed the wonderful organizational ability.
The competition has become the first final in individual events for Poland since 1980, therefore Polish gymnast Artur Zakrzewski, who was awarded with AGF Trophy for the highest score in the competitions among men, was very proud.
He told Trend that the FIG World Cup in Trampoline Gymnastics is one of the best competitions. “It is one of the best organized events in which I have participated. It is my first finals and I am very glad,” he added.
Russian gymnast Dmitry Ushakov, who won gold in Baku emphasized, he is very glad to win the gold medal and is very satisfied with his performance.
“Despite the minor mistakes, I succeeded to gain a victory,” he said, hoping for his return to the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku with great pleasure in 2018, when the city will host the European Championships in Trampoline Gymnastics.