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20 November 2009


A day or two ago, a year has passed since a Bulgarian specialist Mariana Vasileva was appointed head coach of the Azerbaijani national team in rhythmic gymnastics. But she had previously headed the country’s group team in the course of six months as well, and taken the 7th place at the Olympic Games in Beijing with the same team.

During the year past, Azerbaijani gymnasts, under Mariana Vasileva’s command, performed in a great number of international competitions, the main of which were the European Championships in Baku and the World Championships in Japan. It should be mentioned that for the first time Azerbaijan won the silver medal in a team competition, Anna Gurbanova became the holder of a bronze medal in an exercise with a ball, a junior group team has also won the silver medal at the continental championship held in Baku. As to the World Championships, Azerbaijan won the bronze medal in a team competition again, and Aliya Garayeva became the holder of a silver medal in an exercise with a ball.

So, the services of Mariana Vasileva in the development of the domestic rhythmic gymnastics are visible with an unaided eye. And a year of tenure as a head coach of the Azerbaijani national team is enough to review some peculiar results of her activity. Mariana Vasileva did not speak about the achievements of her gymnasts. She just mentioned of them in passing, mainly talking about the changes occurred, in her opinion, since she has headed the national team in rhythmic gymnastics. And not only her gymnasts have changed, she has changed as well.

“For me, the year passed so quickly. Frankly speaking I even did not realize how it passed,” Mariana Vasileva says. “We had begun to prepare for the European Championships, then we began to prepare for the World Championships, and, whereupon, the year passed in fact. I am very glad that the European and World Championships ended for us very well. Now, we have a junior group team, which became a silver medalist of the European Championships. And a senior group team took the fourth place at the World Championships. In my opinion, all this is an excellent result. The year passed quickly as there was a lot of work to do. When there is no work, the time hangs heavy.”

“What changes have occurred? It is difficult to say, as I am at the hall all day long (the interview took place at the hall of the Olympic Complex around eight o’clock in the evening - author). I can say that I see a working atmosphere, which, in my opinion, was absent. I tried to gather all the girls at the Olympic Complex, because it is the only way when the children can work in a real competitive atmosphere. They more quickly improve their performances in such an environment. I also observe that the girls themselves have become more hard-working, and our purposes have become higher. I think they did not believe in themselves before, they did not believe that Azerbaijan can reach the high level. And our gymnasts’ results on the international arena have showed that it is not only possible but they had done it.”

“In your opinion, has the attitude towards you changed for the past year?”

“I am used to speaking frankly. I think they receive the foreigners hardly in the gymnastics circles of Azerbaijan. They give the impression that they consider themselves as unappreciated and as a result a foreign specialist was invited. Overwhelming majority of the coaches agree with me, but at the same time they even do not realize how they are contrasting themselves with me. Maybe, they do it instinctively for protecting themselves wishing to show that they are also good specialists. Despite everything, I want to work with everybody normally, and I do not want to offend anybody. I think it is time for everybody to show all what they can do. Because for the year pa