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Altay Hasanov: Mehriban Aliyeva did great job for development of gymnastics

Mehriban Aliyeva did a great job for the development of gymnastics after election as the President of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation.

AGF Vice-President Altay Hasanov made the remarks at the 8th General Assembly of the Azerbaijani Gymnastics Federation (AGF) dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the Federation in Baku on Dec.26.

Noting that the 15th anniversary of the Federation is celebrated this year, Hasanov said that since AGF was reorganized in 2002, and after the election of Mehriban Aliyeva, who is currently the First Vice President of Azerbaijan, as the AGF President a great job was done for the realization of the plans for the development of gymnastics disciplines.

Hasanov touched upon the milestone of the past 15 years. "If in the first years, the Federation's activities covered three gymnastics disciplines - rhythmic gymnastics, men's gymnastics and acrobatic gymnastics, today our activity covers three more gymnastics disciplines recognized by the International Gymnastics Federation - gymnastics, trampoline gymnastics, aerobics and 1 non-competition discipline 'Gymnastics for Everyone'.

He recalled that the first World Rhythmic Gymnastics Cup was held in Baku in 2003.

"Then in 2004 and 2005, we organized two World Cups and the World Championship for the first time in the history of independent Azerbaijan, overall in the former Soviet Union. European Gymnastics Championships were held in our country in 2007, 2009 and 2014," he said.

“After beginning to develop four more gymnastics disciplines in late 2013, we have hosted the World Cup tournaments on three Olympic types of gymnastics two years in a row since 2016. At the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games, three gymnastics competitions were organized by AGF and its Local Organizing Committee. With each competition, our experience and level of organization of competitions increased, and after leaving our country the tournament participants have remembered our tournaments and the lovely days they had in Baku.”

The AGF vice-president said that after gaining the independence, Azerbaijan was for the first time ever represented in Olympic gymnastics competitions by Anna Gurbanova in the rhythmic gymnastics at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

“Then, at the 2008 Olympic Games in China along with Aliya Garayeva, who had already performed with an individual program and won the sixth place in the all-around finals, a team debuted in the group action and took the seventh place in the all-round finals," he said.

“At the 2012 London Olympics, along with rhythmic gymnast Aliya Garayeva, for the first time in the gymnastics history of Azerbaijan, gymnast Shakir Shikhaliyev participated in the artistic gymnastics competitions at the London Olympic Games. At the Rio 2016, Azerbaijan was represented in rhythmic gymnastics by Marina Durunda, who performed in the all-round finals among the world’s 10 strongest athletes. At the Rio 2016, for the first time in the history of Azerbaijani men's gymnastics, two gymnasts - Oleg Stepko and Petro Pahnyuk - represented our country. Oleg Stepko for the first time in the country’s men’s gymnastics history won the right to participate in the all-around finals at the Rio Olympics together with 24 strongest athletes.”

“During these years, Azerbaijani athlete Aliya Garayeva won the title of European champion in rhythmic gymnastics, our gymnasts were among the medalists of the European and world championships among adults in the individual apparatus finals, all-round and team events.”

“In 2014, our team of Siyana Vasileva, Aliya Pashayeva, Diana Doman, Alexandra Platonova and Aynur Mustafayeva won a silver medal of the European Championships for the first time in the team events, gymnast Marina Durunda won a bronze medal at the 2015 Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships and then won a silver medal at the First European Games in Baku. At the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku, Marina Durunda, Jala Piriyeva and Zohra Aghamirova won gold medals in the team events, Marina Durunda and Jala Piriyeva won seven more medals in the individual apparatus finals.”

Regarding young athletes, Hasanov said that Azerbaijan’s youth national team has won medals since 2009 for six consecutive years at the European championships in individual as well as team events.

“Five medals were won in the men’s artistic gymnastics competitions at the First European Games,” he noted. “At the 2015 world championship, Gymnast Oleg Stepko won a bronze medal in the parallel bars finals for the first time in the gymnastics history of Azerbaijan. In 2016, for the first time in the history of Azerbaijani men’s gymnastics, our country participated in youth team competitions in the European championship. This year, at the Islamic Solidarity Games, Murad Agharzayev, Timur Bayramov and Bence Talas won silver medals in team events and a total of five medals in individual apparatus finals in the men’s gymnastics competitions.”

Though the women’s gymnastics has been developed since late 2013, Anna Pavlova, representing Azerbaijan in its debut performance in the European women’s gymnastics championship in 2014, succeeded to win a silver medal in the vault finals, he said.

“Over the past four years, our gymnasts Marina Nekrasova, Kristina Pravdina and Yulia Inshina were among winners at the World Cups,” Hasanov noted. “Azerbaijan was represented at the First European Games and the World Championships in this type of gymnastics. At the Islamic Solidarity Games held in Baku this year, Marina Nekrasova, Yulia Inshina and Ekaterina Tishkova won a gold medal in the team events, while in the individual apparatus finals they won a total of five medals.”

Hasanov further said that certain results were achieved in the trampoline gymnastics that is being developed since late 2013.

“Ilya Grushin won the bronze medal in the individual final in the trampoline gymnastics competitions held within the first European Games. In 2016, our gymnast Dmitry Fedorovsky won a bronze medal in Azerbaijan’s debut in Double Mini-Trampoline in 25th European Championships. This year for the first time in the history of Azerbaijani gymnastics, in the 2017 World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships, our gymnast Mikhail Malkin won a gold medal among 31 medals in the tumbling competition. Also, a synchronous pair Svetlana Makshtarova and Veronica Zemlyana won the silver medal at the World Games of 2017,” he said.

“The female pair of Ayla Ahmadova and Dilara Sultanova won the gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2009 European Championships in acrobatics gymnastics. In the 2015 European Age Groups competitions, the men pair of Seymur Jafarov and Murad Akperov won the silver medal in the finals of the mixed actions for the first time in the history of Azerbaijan's gymnastics. At these competitions, the pair of Aghasif Rahimov and Nurcan Jabbarli was awarded bronze medals in the mixed-pair mixed actions. In 2016, in the finals of the mixed actions at the World Age Groups competitions the men's pair and mixed pair won the silver medals for the first time in the country's gymnastics history. At the 2017European Championship, a mixed pair of Aghasif Rahimov and Nurcan Jabbarli, won the bronze medal in the tournaments with balance actions and all-round, Abdulla Al-Mashaykhi and Ruhidil Gurbanli.”

The AGF Vice President noted that aerobics gymnastics has been developing in the country since 2013. "In 2015, Azerbaijan was represented in the aerobic gymnastics competitions at the first European Games. This year, for the first time our national team performed in three programs at the European Championship on Aerobic Gymnastics and they managed to reach the finals in all three categories. The foundation for the 7th non-competition discipline 'Gymnastics for Everyone' in our country was laid in 2015, at the World Gymnaestrada held in Helsinki (Finland) with participation of Azerbaijani gymnasts,” he added.

Noting that the trainings of country’s teams in all gymnastics disciplines are presently held at the National Gymnastics Arena , Hasanov recalled that the opening ceremony of this unique sports facility was held in April 2014 with participation of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and AGF President Mehriban Aliyeva. This arena is known in the world not only as a competition venue, but also as a favorite gathering place of foreign gymnasts. The arena has every opportunity that meet all international standards and that require modern gymnast.

"It is gratifying that we watch the performance of young gymnasts in all gymnastics disciplines in the national competitions. A stream is observed in the gymnastics sections. Today, along with Baku, there are sections on gymnastics in 16 regions of Azerbaijan. In 2014, the "Interregional Cup" was held within the Azerbaijan Championship and Baku Championship in rhythmic gymnastics for the first time in the history of gymnastics,” he added.

The AGF vice-president underlined that much work has been done over the years to increase the skills of local referees and coaches.

“Local coaching and referee courses were organized for them. In addition, in 2013, specialists of the Academy of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) for the first time held the 1st degree rhythmic gymnastics coaching courses in Baku. In 2014, the artistic gymnastic coaching courses of the second level were organized. The first international referee courses were held in 2007 in the men's gymnastics discipline. For the first time in 2014, there were held international referee courses on trampoline and women's gymnastics disciplines in Baku. For the first time in 2017, the FIG Intercontinental Coaching Courses on Rhythmic Gymnastics were successfully held in Baku. Then the International Judicial Course on rhythmic gymnastics and men's gymnastics disciplines were successfully organized in Baku. It is gratifying that we have 19 referees with international degree in rhythmic gymnastics."

Hasanov added that for the first time in the history of Azerbaijan's gymnastics, judge in Men's Artistic Gymnastics Rza Aliyev, received the highest international judging Brevet 1, after taking part in the Intercontinental Judges' Courses.

"Although women's gymnastics, trampoline and aerobics are new to us, we already have judges in these disciplines of gymnastics. It is gratifying that Kamil Guliyev took part in the assessment of performances as the first Azerbaijani judge in the 2017 World Championship in trampoline gymnastics,” he said.

“Since 2007 AGF representatives have been represented within the International Gymnastics Federation. AGF's manager for international relations, Mehman Aliyev, is currently a member of the FIG's Appeal Tribunal. Farid Gayibov, who was the Secretary General of the AGF for 11 years, was elected to the Board of the International Gymnastics Federation for the first time in 2008 and was re-elected to the Board in 2012 and later refused from membership after being elected as the Vice-President of European Union of Gymnastics (UEG) in 2013. His victory in the recent presidential elections to the UEG has revealed the great influence of Azerbaijani gymnastics in the international arena."

Hasanov informed that the FIG Council meetings were held for the first time in Baku this year. “The President of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, First Vice President of the country, Mehriban Aliyeva, was awarded with FIG's highest award for her services in the development of the gymnastics,” he noted.

“Today, we can be proud that the AGF has been included in the list of federations awarded by the FIG for three years in a row. As you can see, over 15 years, the AGF has achieved many successes at both national and international levels. Now our main goal is to further develop gymnastics by maintaining the achieved level."