Author: Sanan SARIFZADA Baku-Palembang-Baku
Azerbaijan, which was represented at the third Islamic Games by 53 athletes, finished seventh among the 46 countries. In all, the Azerbaijani team won 24 medals in Palembang, Indonesia - 6 gold, 9 silver and 9 bronze.
One has to say that the organization of the Games, which were postponed three times, was not great - the Islamiada will be remembered for a whole number of flaws. More countries took part in the competition than expected. Although the organizers announced that 25 countries had been registered, in the end 46 were represented. Naturally, such a sharp increase in the number of expected visitors created a whole number of problems.
The Azerbaijani national anthem was played six times at the Islamic Games. Among the winners were karate fighters Ayxan Mamayev (84kg) and Rafayel Agayev (75kg), the karate team and the swimmer Boris Kirillov (200m and backstroke). Eighteen-year old Yekaterina Sariyeva triumphed in the women's triple jump and another gold medal was won by Hayle Ibrahimov in the 5000m.
Silver medals were won by karate fighters Sahin Atamov (84kg) and Niyazi Aliyev (67kg). Atamov's failure to achieve gold was put down to his state of health. Struck down even before arriving in Palembang, he never fully recovered, but even so he put up a worthy show by reaching the final.
Our weightlifters brought home another three silver medals - Afqan Bayramov (77kg), Intiqam Zairov (94kg) and Silviya Angelova (48kg). Yevgeniy Lazuka won silver in the 50m butterfly in the pool. Silver medals were also won by our archery team, the Taekwondo fighter Gunay Agakisiyeva and the Wushu fighter Ruslan Piraliyev.
Incidentally, Yevgeniy Lazuka also won a bronze in the 100m butterfly. Bronze medals were also won by weightlifters Namiq Calilov (85kg) and Zulfuqar Suleymanov (62kg), Wushu fighter Elcin Eminov and Taekwondo fighters Turkan Tahirli, Mikayil Aliyev and Patimat Abakarova. Also among the bronze winners were hammer thrower Dmitriy Marshinin with a throw of 70.68m. If he had come close to his personal best of 72.43m Marshinin could have won a higher medal. Layes Abdullayeva came third in the women's 5,000m final.
During the Islamic Games in Palembang the Baku-2017 Organizing Committee arranged an Azerbaijan Day to mark the forthcoming IV Islamic Games. The event began with an address by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to the organizers and participants in the Games. As well as information about the socio-economic and political situation in Azerbaijan, the address noted the importance of the Islamic Games and underlined Azerbaijan's potential to hold them at the highest level.
Taking part in the event were the presidents and general secretaries of the NOCs of the participating countries in the Islamic Games, the leadership of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation, representatives of the Organizing Committee of the current Games, authorized representatives of the Indonesian government, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Indonesia Tamerlan Qarayev and other officials. Full of praise for our country's sporting achievements, the guests expressed confidence that the Islamic Games in Baku in 2017 would be organized at a high level.
At the closing ceremony of the III Islamic Solidarity Games the flag of the Games was ceremonially handed over to Azerbaijan. It was accepted by the vice-president of the Azerbaijani NOC Cingiz Huseynzada. The decision to hold the IV Islamic Games in Azerbaijan in 2017 was made at the VIII General Assembly of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.
Cingiz Huseynzada, vice-president of the NOC: "We gave a commendable performance at the Islamic Solidarity games. The 24 medals we won there were further confirmation that Azerbaijan is a sporting country. The karate fighters, weightlifters, Wushu and Taekwondo fighters justified our hopes. Seventh place in the team rankings was a fine result. Our successes are testimony to the development of sport in the country and that we are on the right path.
Karate fighter Rafayel Agayev, Islamic Games champion: "Generally speaking, 2013 was a successful year for me. I have not lost a single bout this year. I trained hard for the Islamic Games and in Indonesia all I thought about was winning and trying to continue my successful run. First I defeated my rivals from Algeria and Tunisia. The semi-final bout against the Egyptian was tough - it was only 7 seconds before the siren that I was successful with a three-point strike which brought me victory. In the final I beat the Iranian and so took first place on the podium. We set ourselves the task of winning at least 5 medals at the Islamiada. In the individual bouts we won four weight categories out of five. Ayxan Mamayev (84kg) and I became champions and Sahin Atamov (+84kg) and Niyazi Aliyev (67kg) won silver medals. We could have had more medals but, unfortunately, in the individual category two of our fighters lost their bouts for bronze medals. Still, we took first place in the team category. By beating Indonesia, Malaysia and Algeria we reached the final where we met Iran, who had knocked some of the strong favourites out of the competition. We met this challenge and won 3-1."
Intiqam Zairov (silver medal, weightlifting): "I congratulate the Azerbaijani athletes. Twenty-four medals is a great success. I was unhappy with my own performance. It was my aim at the Games to win a gold medal. But my injury prevented me from lifting a heavier weight. I think we could have done better in the weightlifting. Next up is the world championship. I'll try to do better then."