Vice-president of the Azerbaijani Gymnastics Federation Altay Hasanov answered the questions of AZERTAc for the first European Games and the performances of the Azerbaijani gymnasts.
-Altay Muallim primarily congratulate you on being awarded the order "Shohrat" by order of the head of state. You have awarded with this state award for outstanding achievements won at the first European games, and great contribution to the development of Azerbaijani sport.
Indeed, the Azerbaijani gymnasts were successful at the first European games. In one of your interviews you said that the judge demonstrated biased position against Azerbaijan gymnasts. But despite this, our artists were able to win 7 medals overall. How do you rate their success?
- Thank you for your congratulations, and so the question. The first ever European games were really great. Despite the subjectivity of judges, our artists were able to contribute to the overall victory.
You have already mentioned that our gymnasts have won 7 medals at competitions. However, the Games were not so easy. Because it is sport, and any result is possible. We have experienced sad and happy moments. As you know, the evaluation of performances in gymnastics is subjective. Each of the judges in his speech refers to this. Evaluation is not always objective. In particular, we have many years of encounter of such a phenomenon.
The Azerbaijani state pays special attention to the development of all kinds of sports, including gymnastics. With our competitors, we have a very strong competition. Therefore it is natural that they are afraid of us. Sometimes artificial obstacles were created. This is especially true of bias judges biased estimates. With such a phenomenon we encountered since our first performance. Our group team in rhythmic gymnastics performed well, but received low ratings. Other teams also were praised by the judges to block our path to the final. Then the management of our Federation decided to make the facts of injustice public. As we watched it for several years. At this time we were prepared to compete at a higher level. However, the judges still did their job, and I on behalf of the Federation was forced to protest.
Of course, our athletes were a little disheartened, and failed to demonstrate a good result at the second performance. Therefore, given this, we directed our attention to the individual competitions and started serious preparation on our gymnast Marina Durundoy. Her training also went well. Injustice had a psychological impact on Marina. But we were able to achieve elimination of psychological tension. With the active support of our fans, and she successfully performed and won a silver medal.
Any sport is based on the final result. To achieve good results, especially in rhythmic gymnastics, it takes years. We have already reached that level. Last year, Azerbaijan is rapidly developing gymnastics. We also began to revive the trampoline gymnastics, acrobatics and aerobics, and the results were not long in coming. At the first European games, we won 5 medals in gymnastics, 1 medal in jumping on a trampoline. I would say that this is a great success and we appreciate the performances of our gymnasts.
- Of course, in the roots of the successes of our gymnasts in recent years, particularly in the first European games are the attention and care of President of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva. The conditions created at the National gymnastics arena, are meeting the most modern standards, which are admired by the foreign athletes. What other steps are being taken in our country, particularly in regions in the direction of the development of the gymnastics?
- Indeed, the development of gymnastics in our country began after the election of the first lady Mehriban Aliyeva, as the President of the Azerbaijani Gymnastics Federation, in autumn 2002. Naturally, this development did not happen immediately. Our achievements have grown gradually. We have accumulated experience in preparing the athletes. First, we invited foreign coaches, and then prepared our own coaches. By the decision of the head of state, the National Gymnastic Arena was build and and put into operation in 2014. This is a perfect sports facility which has no equivalent in Europe. Of course, for such attention and care we had to answer with strong results. It is thanks to the hard work and continuous training of our gymnasts, who performed well at the first European games.
The care of the Azerbaijani state was manifested in the fact that in the regions modern sports complexes were built . We have already opened sport clubs in several regions - Sumgait, Shabran, Kurdamir, Ganja, Ismayilli, Gusar and other regions and cities. Currently, there is a great influence in sport, a large influx. And we, in turn, create all the necessary conditions for young athletes, the appropriate infrastructure. President Ilham Aliyev pays special attention to the creation of the necessary conditions for the development of regional sports, including gymnastics. Active participation in this matter is provided by the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation. The Federation sends trainers to the regions, as well as creating conditions for the participation of young sportsmen from the regions in the national championships, they enter the international arena.
-Olympic Games Rio 2016 are coming. What do you expect from this representative competition, the preparations for the Olympics?
- After the completion at the first European Games our athletes, of course, there is a little rest needed. However, our gymnasts’s holidays turned short, because in autumn we expect to license for the world championships. There are competitions in rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline and gymnastics, we have to win as many licenses for the summer Olympic Games in Rio as possible. Therefore, our main work is still ahead. We know that it will be very difficult. Since the competition after the European games has intensified. Our opponents have seen the strength of our gymnasts, so at the upcoming competitions they will be seriously ready. First we need to get the licenses, and then we can talk about our goals at the Olympics.
- The first European games have played an important role in promoting Azerbaijan. What do you think is the impact of the Games Baku-2015 for the further development of sports, including gymnastics in our country?
- The first European games Baku-2015 became an invaluable tool for the promotion of Azerbaijan. Because, in my opinion, the best opportunity to promote could not be seen. We can promote our country with a wide variety of events - conferences, seminars, workshops, presentations in different countries. During the 17 days of competition, Azerbaijan was visited by many athletes and guests from different countries. Could there be a stronger promotion than when they are back happy, telling in their own countries about what they have seen here? In addition, exceptional value in terms of promoting our country and its popularization in the world are countless programs and articles on television and in the media about the Azerbaijani Games.
Undoubtedly, games will be a powerful stimulus for the development of sports, including gymnastics in our country. As I said, after Mehriban Aliyeva had headed the Federation, it underwent fundamental structural changes, particularly in the rhythmic gymnastics. Now we have produced enough competent local coaches. We have created a school in rhythmic gymnastics. This is a great achievement.
On behalf of the President of the Federation after the London Olympic Games increased attention to gymnastics. The results that we see now. Our goal is to create our own school in the field. I believe that the results achieved and the experience gained will have a positive impact on the development of other kinds of gymnastics.
Young teens are happy to be involved in this area, and they all want to be champions. Our sections have not enough room for everyone who wants to do gymnastics. For the professional development of our athletes, for them to gain experience, our Federation and the relevant ministry send them to the numerous tournaments. The successes of our young gymnasts are ahead.
- As you know, the Azerbaijani State News Agency (AZERTAC) was the official media partner of the first European Games. Our agency has sought to adequately fulfill its tasks in this regard. How do you assess the activity of AZERTAC to promote the "Baku-2015", covering the preparatory work and competition?
- AZERTAC actually spent the promotion of a high level, quickly covered the Games. In general, the Azerbaijani media in recent years have changed, improved their professionalism. From this perspective, your agency is different really. AZERTAC has always been at the forefront of the media, played a leading role. In particular, we have witnessed its high professionalism in covering the Games. Thank you for skillfully coping with this important and responsible task. For this I want to express special gratitude to AZERTAC.
- Altai Muallim, thank you for the interesting conversation and wish our gymnasts even greater success in the future competitions.
- Thank you very much.