Author: Sanan NADIROGHLU
The capital of Belarus, Minsk, recently hosted the 2nd European Games, which originally began in Baku. According to the results of competitions, Azerbaijani team took the 10th place in the team competition. Azerbaijani athletes won 28 medals in various sports: 5 gold, 10 silver and 13 bronze. In total, athletes from 43 countries won 200 sets of awards. However, only athletes from 34 countries were lucky enough to return home with gold medals.
As in the first European Games held in Baku four years ago, the Russian team topped the list of medallist countries, followed by the hosts of competition, Belarus. The third on the list was Ukraine. The rest seven countries of the top ten were Italy, Holland, Germany, Georgia, France, Great Britain, and Azerbaijan.
Compared to the 1st European Games, Azerbaijani athletes did not show particularly vivid performances. This time they were able to win only half of the 56 medals won by national team during the 1st European Games.
One of the objective factors influencing the performance of Azerbaijani national team was the reduction of sports included in the program of the Games in Minsk and, accordingly, the sets of awards (200 in Minsk against 253 in Baku). Azerbaijani national team was represented by a much smaller team.
However, our judokas could increase the number of medals: one silver and three bronze awards (in Baku there was only one silver). Our wrestlers won two gold, one silver and two bronze medals; women won gold, silver and bronze, and Greco-Roman wrestlers won silver and bronze medals. In other words, they have 10 out of 28 total medals and 3 gold ones. The remaining 13 awards were distributed among karatekas (1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze), acrobatic couples in gymnastics (2 silver and a bronze), sambo wrestlers (1 silver and 2 bronze), boxers (one gold and bronze). It was in these sports in Minsk-2019 that Azerbaijan was represented by the largest number of athletes.
Fourteen Azerbaijani athletes returned back without any awards. They participated in such sports as horse riding, cycling, archery, canoeing and badminton.
Some local athletes, who were literally within a step from medals, disappointed their fans. We should also note biased refereeing in a number of cases. Nevertheless, one of the main causes of failure is the lack of preparedness of some athletes. In a number of teams, this resulted in a low level of organisation of coaching. We hope that the analysis of mistakes made in Minsk will help coaches to properly build their work on the eve of the Summer Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo.
Five-time world champion, multiple European champion Rafael Aghayev also failed in Minsk. Due to injury and judicial bias, Rafael won a silver medal. “I do not want to make excuses. Although it is because of injuries, I began to prepare at the last moment. On the other hand, in the final the judges for unknown reasons did not award me two well-deserved points. But it will be a lesson to me. Now I will try with even more zeal. After karate was included in the Olympic program, it became more difficult to win. But I am not old yet and I think I will win medals for Azerbaijan,” Aghayev said.
First, Rafael plans to get over his injuries in order to continue preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Mahir Amiraslanov, who brought the first gold medal from Belarus, shared with us his impressions about our performance at the European Games: “Minsk was a real challenge for us. Each of us was focused on win. I am very happy to be the first gold medallist of our team. June 26 is the Day of the Armed Forces in our country. I dedicated my victory to our army. In a few months, I myself will be in the military as well. But I do not think my job is finished. My main goal is to win in 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” Amiraslanov said.
Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan Azad Rahimov commented on the results of the 2nd European Games for R+. In general, he commented on the performance of the Azerbaijani team positively. “I am pleased with the results in terms of the number of medals. We were pleased with results of traditional sports. As always, our wrestlers are among the medallists. We have great potential in freestyle, Greco-Roman, and women's wrestling. Our boxers left a good impression, we believe in them. As for other sports, sambo, although not an Olympic sport, is very popular. I think that great support is needed for further development of sambo in Azerbaijan,” Rahimov noted.
He also underlined the high level of organization of the 2nd European Games. “Minsk justified the trust with high level of sports facilities, registration of scores, award ceremonies, and the work of volunteers. European Games were great. This is a confirmation that they should have a continuation,” Mr. Rahimov said.