Azerbaijan’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships held

By: Nazrin Gadimova

Azerbaijan’s 21st Championships on Rhythmic Gymnastics was held in Baku-based National Gymnastics Arena on April 19.

The competition brought together 26 gymnasts, both seniors and those who were born in 1999-2001. Gymnasts competed for medals in both absolute all-around and the individual events.

Opening the great event, Vice-President of Azerbaijan’s Gymnastics Federation (AGF), Altay Hasanov warmly welcomed all participants and guests.

“First of all, on behalf of the entire gymnastics community, I thank the Head of State, the esteemed President Ilham Aliyev, for construction of this modern and unique sports facility, which meets the world standards,” Hasanov added.

He said the federation, athletes and coaches, and all those related to gymnastics, have been waiting for this day.

“The gymnastics ground that meets the most modern international standards has been established in Azerbaijan. We have seen a lot of sports complexes in the world, but I assure you that our arena is unique,” he said.

Hasanov said all conditions have been created at the new complex, and every small detail has been considered, adding that athletes and coaches of Azerbaijan should just achieve good results.

He went on to add that Azerbaijan’s gymnastics has made a big step over the past ten years and entered the world’s gymnastics elite.

“Today Azerbaijani athletes are among the most decorated athletes and compete for medals along with them,” he said, expressing confidence that Azerbaijani gymnasts will achieve even greater results in the future.

“I wish that success in other types of gymnastics would also be achieved,” he said, adding that the this championship held at the new arena became a holiday.

Hasanov also congratulated all the participants, winners, coaches, choreographers, judges and other people related to gymnastics, and all those who contributed to this event.

“I particularly express my gratitude to Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation’s President Mehriban Aliyeva for constant care,” Hasanov stressed.

Speaking at the championships, Azerbaijan’s Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov said a healthy lifestyle, attracting youth and future generations to sports is very important for Azerbaijan.

Rahimov then welcomed the participants of the tournament on behalf of the National Olympic Committee and the Youth and Sports Ministry.

The minister said the sports policy, which was founded by Azerbaijan’s National leader Heydar Aliyev, is successfully continued today by President Aliyev.

“The material and technical base of our country’s sports sphere is developing day by day,” he said. “Today Azerbaijan holds the grandest events. We are very proud to stress that in the coming years the most famous athletes of the world and Europe will perform at sports palaces, which are currently being constructed, repaired and opened in Baku. For us, a healthy lifestyle, youth and future generations’ involvement in sports is extremely important,” he said.

Marina Durunda became the two-time champion of Azerbaijan in rhythmic gymnastics among seniors in the absolute all-around exercises, while Lala Yusifova took the second place. Azerbaijan’s Gulsum Shafizadeh became the third.

Zuleykha Ismayilova was the strongest among juniors in the absolute all-around. Silver and bronze medals were taken by Jala Piriyeva and Rugiya Sattarova respectively.

The National Gymnastics Arena (NGA) was opened by President Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva on April 16. Depending on the scale of a competition, the number of seats in the arena can be increased from 5,000 to 10,000.

The complex, built in accordance with international standards, has a press center, a first aid station, a dance hall and a gym, doping control rooms, offices, shops, cafes and ancillary facilities. Moreover, the sports facility, which is expected to become one of the best gymnastic centers in Europe, also has a hotel.

Great interest to the championship was caused by the fact that this competition was a test tournament in anticipation of the upcoming European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics, which will be held in Baku on June 13-15 and will bring together over 30 countries.