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“Azerbaijan has become the world’s Gymnastics center”

18 July 2022

“Azerbaijan has become the world’s Gymnastics center”

We present to our readers an interview with the Executive Committee member of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation (AGF), Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports - Mariana Vasileva to “Gym Magazine” journal about the development of gymnastics in our country and achievements gained in this field in 2022.
Ms. Mariana Vasileva, the first 6 months of 2022 have been remembered by a number of remarkable sports events. How do you evaluate the results of Azerbaijani gymnasts at the competitions in the first half of the year?
This year, Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation (AGF) hosted 5 major events in Azerbaijan at a high level. It is gratifying that successful results were achieved at each of these competitions. Even a number of results gained marked historical achievements. Seljan Mahsudova, who was born and grown up in Azerbaijan, won the Silver medal at the first international event of the year - the FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Cup. This proves the development of Trampoline Gymnastics in our country. Then our Acrobatic gymnasts made us happy with their successful performances. The Azerbaijani National anthem was sounded in their honor in the World Age Group Competitions. Afterwards, our Rhythmic gymnasts were in the spotlight with their bright achievement. Our athletes also managed to achieve high results at the events held outside the borders of our country. 
Were you content with the performances of our Rhythmic gymnasts at the recent European Championships held in Tel Aviv (Israel)?
The European Championships was considered the first serious test of the year for our Rhythmic gymnasts. At the Continental Championships, our athletes tested their strength in the Individual program and Team competitions among juniors while senior gymnasts competed in the Individual program and Group exercises. Our representatives succeeded to reach the Finals in both age groups. For the first time in history, Azerbaijani gymnasts managed to rank on top ten of the Continental Championships in the Individual All-Around competitions. The members of our team in group exercises performed successfully and won 3 Bronze medals. Of course, this is a high result. The achieved result will be a great impetus for our gymnasts to gain higher achievements in future.
The 5th Islamic Solidarity Games to be held in Turkey await our gymnasts. What result do you expect from our team at these Games?
This is the second time that Rhythmic Gymnastics has been included in the program of the Islamic Solidarity Games. This time, the program of the Games also includes events in Group exercises. Of course, we are glad that Gymnastics is represented at the Games. It should be mentioned that this factor is of great importance in terms of the development and popularization of this gymnastics discipline among Islamic countries. Progress in this area is already felt. As for the results, I hope that, along with other sports disciplines, our gymnasts will justify our expectations. Of course, it’s difficult to make a forecast in sports. Sometimes, there are circumstances which cannot be influenced by athlete. First of all, we expect flawless performance from our gymnasts. In this case, you can hope for a successful accomplishment.
You visit the regions regularly. Are you pleased with the development of Gymnastics in the regions?
Minister of Youth and Sports - Farid Gayibov pays special attention to the development of sports in the regions. We regularly visit regions and are interested in the development of sections in various sports disciplines. Along with other sports disciplines, we are pleased with the training process of our gymnasts in the regions. Coaches’ approach to the trainings is very serious, athletes are very the disciplined. Based on what I have seen, I can say that this development makes parents happy too. 10 years ago, it was very difficult to see girls doing Rhythmic Gymnastics in the regions. In 2011, we opened the first Gymnastics section in Goychay. At the moment, there are 26 Gymnastics sections in the regions. Parents enroll their children in Gymnastics classes with great enthusiasm.
Ms. Mariana, is there a promising pre-junior and junior generation growing up in Gymnastics?
Based on the development of Gymnastics in the capital city and the regions, in terms of popularity and mass involvement in this field, as well as the success achieved among younger age groups, I can say that a promising young generation, a reserve team is underway. It is true that the pandemic has affected the development of sports in recent years. But a number of measures have been implemented to overcome these difficulties. During the pandemic, our athletes continued their trainings online and then in the open-air. I can say that during the pandemic, the number of gymnasts, who quitted sports was very small. In May, I watched the National Championships held after a 3-year break. Of course, the quality is not as high as we would like it to be. But a number of measures are taken for athletes to fully recover their forms. Regular master-classes are organized with the participation of our elite gymnasts in the capital city and regions and our coaches focus on their trainings.
How is Rhythmic Gymnastics developing in the world and in Europe today?
Today, Gymnastics is developing at a very fast pace all over the world. 286 athletes from 39 countries took part in the last European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships. The countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, San Marino, Luxembourg and Montenegro participated in this competition. The large number of participating countries is an indicator of the interest and development of Gymnastics.
This year, AGF will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its reestablishment. We would like to know your thoughts about the activities of the Federation over the years.
I would like to say that the whole world highly values AGF’s activities. Thanks to the leadership of the President of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation – Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva and her attention and care shown to Gymnastics, Azerbaijan has become the center of Gymnastics in the world. Due to Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva's support for the development of Gymnastics and her trust in us, the impossible has become possible. Along with other fields, her activities in sports, her love for children and athletes are an example for us. This attention and care, love, professional and responsible approach to one’s work shows us how we should work. Today, 9 gymnastics disciplines are being developed in our country, Azerbaijan hosts world-class competitions at a high level. Rhythmic Gymnastics has become the most popular sports discipline for girls in Azerbaijan and our athletes achieve successful results in all Gymnastics discipline. It is gratifying that we have our local professional specialists today. As a result of these successes, AGF has been included in the ranking list of 10 National Federations awarded by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) for 6 years in a row and has been leading this list in recent years. Of course, all this was possible due to the correct strategy implemented by the Federation. Of course, I am proud of the achievements in Gymnastics.