Author: Nadir KHOSROVOGHLU
The 15th European Youth Summer Olympic Festival (EYOF Baku 2019) ended after seven days of interesting competitions among 3,900 athletes from 48 European countries. Athletes competed for 135 sets of medals in ten different sports: gymnastics, athletics, basketball, cycling, handball, judo, swimming, tennis, volleyball and wrestling, winning 300 gold, 300 silver and 330 bronze medals for 38 countries of the world.
The Russian team with 66 medals (28 gold, 17 silver and 21 bronze medals) tops the list of winners of EYOF Baku 2019, followed by British athletes with 25 medals (11, 12 and 2, respectively), and Turkey with 27 medals (11, 6 and 10).
The team of Azerbaijan, which won 23 medals (10 gold, 7 silver and 6 bronze) of this prestigious competition, took the fourth place in the team competition. As expected, most of the medals were taken by our wrestlers: 8 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze. The second place in terms of the number of medals was taken by our judokas (2 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze medals). At competitions in gymnastics, Azerbaijan could win only one silver medal.
Top ten of the tournament also includes the teams from Italy, Ukraine, Spain, France, Poland and Belarus.
The fourth place of Azerbaijan in the team rating is the best result of the country in the history of these competitions. Prior to that, the highest achievement of our national team was the 6th place with seven gold medals won in Belgrade in 2013. Nevertheless, weak results of the national team in many sports require serious analysis.
This is especially true of basketball, cycling, handball, swimming, tennis and volleyball. In particular, there was a noticeable lack of preparedness in handball and volleyball because our federations primarily focus on adult teams, while young athletes remain in the shadows. In this context, the outcome of the festival will be a serious signal for some federations. Lack of proper attention to young athletes can lead to problems with adult teams in the future.
In general, the Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan Azad Rahimov appreciated the results of the festival as satisfactory. “We saw not only teenagers, but professional athletes who are prepared as well as Olympic champions due to their diligence and hard work. I hope that the festival will inspire them to great achievements in the future,” minister said.
He noted that Azerbaijan was not happy with the results of previous competitions. This year we were represented in all kinds of sports, which also influenced the number of medals won. “That is why we are pleased with the result. We will certainly take care of the athletes who have become medallists of this competition,” Rahimov noted.
Azad Rahimov said he was sorry not to see success of Azerbaijan in team sports. “Seven strongest teams in Europe participated in every kind of sports, and we were the eighth. These European team included champions of Europe and the world. Competing with strong teams was not easy at all. The victory of our basketball team over the Croatian team was a good one. However, we will analyse the results and draw relevant conclusions,” he said.
Guests were also satisfied with the organization of the competition. They think that the festival was organised at high level. Niels Naygard, Vice-President of the European Olympic Committees, thanked Azerbaijan for organizing the festival and said that the Baku tournament will take a special place in the history of youth sports: “We are leaving Baku with good impressions. Your specialists raised Azerbaijan to a high level in holding sporting events. We will continue our support to the organisation of major sports events in Azerbaijan,” Nils Naygard said.
The 16th European Youth Summer Olympic Festival will be held in Banska Bystrica, Slovenia in 2021.