Author: Sanan SHAFIZADEH
Baku prepares to host yet another sports event, Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup scheduled for September 16-22 at the National Gymnastics Arena. The name of the star ambassador of the championship is already known. This is the multiple world champion in rhythmic gymnastics, the silver medallist of the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Yana BATYRSHINA. The famous gymnast has already embarked on her mission. Taking advantage of Yana’s visit to Baku, we asked her to answer some questions from our magazine.
"We are glad to see you in Azerbaijan. You have already been at the final stage of the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup. What are your impressions?"
"Baku has always been known for the high-level organisation of gymnastics competitions. Both athletes and their coaches know this. Seizing this opportunity, I took part at the final stage of the World Cup. The National Gymnastics Arena is gorgeous. The training arena has 12 carpets. Believe me, there are no such conditions in any world arena. There is also amazing lighting. It does not annoy viewers and provides excellent visibility.
"I also visited several other beautiful places in Baku. For the first time in my life, I personally saw the Formula 1 competition. I saw extreme speed. Holding such a prestigious competition as Formula 1 in Baku is a great achievement. It demonstrates the beauty of the city to the whole world."
"In a few days, the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship will take place in Baku. Are we going to see you there?"
"I received an invitation from the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation and will be pleased to participate. Every competition in Baku is a gymnastics holiday. I look forward to these competitions. In the championship, which will be held on the eve of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, there will be strong competition. We will watch an exciting competition."
"What does it mean for you to be a star ambassador for the World Cup in Baku?"
"First of all, I thank the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation for the honour bestowed upon me to be the star ambassador of such a major competition. My main task is to promote gymnastics. I will participate in the filming of social videos; we will visit children's homes. We organise workshops in gymnastics schools. We have many interesting plans. I am sure that the upcoming World Cup will be the best in the history of these competitions. After the World Cup, we will organise an international tournament for the prize of Yana Batyrshina for children. This tournament has been held in Moscow for six years in a row, and now it will be held in Baku. Usually it gathers 400 juniors from 10-12 countries. I hope this time there will be more participants."
"How do you assess the level of development of gymnastics in Azerbaijan?"
"You have very high results. A great job has been done in the shortest possible time. In general, gymnastics in recent years has been developing in all countries. Look at the results of the World Cup. Now many countries compete with Russian gymnasts. I am glad that Azerbaijan also has its say in international competitions. A new strong generation is growing. I watched the performance of your youth team and enjoyed it. In the national team will certainly be strong competition. Coaches will have difficult time selecting students. Azerbaijan does not invite woman athletes from abroad, but raises them locally. After the Olympics in Tokyo, a new generation will appear. And then their time will come."
"Did you have an idol in rhythmic gymnastics?"
"Yes, Bulgarian gymnast Maria Petrova, who has fascinated me since my childhood. At every competition, I tried to be like her. I must also mention Ukrainian Oksana Skaldina and Spaniard Caroline Pascuale. These athletes were role models for me. Skaldina was very technical. Pascuale made a splash at the Olympics. They demonstrated the performance not leaving a chance to rivals."
"Has modern gymnastics changed a lot?"
"Strongly. The guys practice in training what we did in our time at competitions. Time passes, rules change, development accelerates. Exercises with objects have become more difficult. It was different in our days. Gymnastics has become more difficult, but the risk has decreased. At that time, there was more risk. Nevertheless, I must say that gymnastics has become more beautiful."
"What advice would you give to Azerbaijani fans of gymnastics?"
"First of all, I invite everyone to the World Championship. I was told that gymnastics has become a trend in Azerbaijan now. All dream of their children doing gymnastics. I am happy to hear that. Although not everyone will be a champion, girls will have a great physique. Gymnastics is both a sport and art. And sport loves discipline. Children from childhood will try to be disciplined."
In the presence of such an excellent gymnastic arena, it is a shame to watch the competitions on TV. I invite all fans of gymnastics to follow the competition in the hall. Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation has created such conditions in the arena that I want to come to the competitions with the whole family. It is not boring for children or adults.
The tickets for the 37th World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship, which will be held in Baku on September 16-22, are already on sale. The championship, which will be held again in Baku after fourteen years, will be a licensing stage for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.