Author: Sanan SHAFIZADEH
Baku hosted the second international rhythmic gymnastics tournament AGF Junior Trophy in the National Gymnastics Arena, with the national team of Azerbaijan winning 6 medals in the competition attended by athletes from 20 countries of the world.
The group exercises brought the first medal to the Azerbaijani team. With 41 points in all-around competitions, Madina Asadova, Laman Alimuradova, Seljan Hajizadeh, Milan Akbarova and Farida Safiyarzadeh won silver medals for the team.
Then Arzu Jalilova climbed to the third step of the pedestal with 17,350 points in exercise with a rope. Her teammate, Narmina Samedova, on the last day of the competition managed to win two medals — a bronze medal for exercise with a ball and a silver one for exercise with a ribbon.
The national team earned another medal during a group performance in exercises with a hoop. Having received 21.500 points from the judges, the local athletes were awarded the gold award.
The triumphant march of Azerbaijani juniors ended in second place in the ribbon exercises. The performance of the team was rated at 18.350 points, which brought the team a silver medal.
The AGF Trophy Prize, awarded for the highest performing points, was also awarded to Azerbaijani gymnasts both in the individual program (Arzu Jalilova) and group exercises (Madina Asadova, Laman Alimuradova, Seljan Hajizadeh, Milana Akbarova, Farida Safiyarzadeh).
In her interview, the head coach of the Azerbaijani national team, Mariana Vasileva, thanked the leadership of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation for the support and the conditions created. “Without the support of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva, the successes achieved by our country in rhythmic gymnastics would be impossible. After Mehriban Aliyeva was elected president of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, this sport in the country began to develop rapidly. Along with the construction of the National Gymnastics Arena, the clubs have excellent conditions for training, 17 clubs for rhythmic gymnastics have been opened in the regions of Azerbaijan. Our competitions contribute to the development of gymnastics, not only in Azerbaijan, but throughout the world. I am proud to say that we have the best conditions in the world,” M. Vasileva said.
She also thanked the athletes and the coaching staff of the Azerbaijani national team. "Thanks you. When I heard how our girls and fans started singing the national anthem of Azerbaijan, I had tears in my eyes for pride,” M. Vasileva shared her impressions.
Young gymnasts are also satisfied with the results of the tournament. However, they intend to continue working on themselves to achieve better results in the future. “I think that I performed well. Very pleased with the medal won. I like to play with all the shells, without putting a difference between them. The support of the fans is also extremely important to us. It gives us extra strength. Now we can do more difficult exercises, hence getting higher points each time,” Arzu Jalilova, who won the AGF Junior Trophy bronze medal for the exercise with a rope, said.
“I am pleased with the result, but I could perform better. In an exercise with clubs, I made a small mistake, without which I would take the first place,” another Azerbaijani gymnast Narmina Samedova, who won a silver medal for an exercise with a ribbon and a bronze one for performing with a ball, said.
N. Samedova also noted the importance of performing in Baku and expressed gratitude to the fans for their great support. “Of course, it’s more convenient to perform in your own country, as your people support you,” said the Azerbaijani gymnast. She noted that at present the preparation for the first world championship in rhythmic gymnastics among juniors is underway. The championship will be held in July 2019 in Moscow.
Baku also prepares for the 37th Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championship, which will be held in the National Gymnastics Arena on September 16-22 of this year. Holding another world championship in rhythmic gymnastics in Azerbaijan after 14 years will be the most important sporting event of the year. The championship will be a qualification stage for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.