20 November 2013
Azerbaijan Championship in rhythmic gymnastics held in Ismayilli has turned out to be successful in all respects. Having won a victory in the all-around as well as in the competition with a ribbon, a rope and a ball, Marina Durunda gained a title of the country's best gymnast, while Lala Yusifova won the "Gold" medal in an exercise with clubs. Despite the fact that the athletes had just begun to perform at senior level, the national championship crowned their saturated season.
For the last years, a review of the country's best gymnasts has been taking place in regions of Azerbaijan. The championship was held in Qusar two years ago, and, now, no less hospitable Ismayilli opened its doors to the athletes. Moreover, Mirdamat Sadigov, head of the executive power of Ismayilli, organized a banquet on the eve of the competition to all its participants, and, as to the event itself, it run in a truly festive atmosphere. Being in such an aura, it was especially pleasant to the athletes to perform at the Olympic Complex, determining the strongest one both in the all-round and with separate apparatus.
In addition, the championship had its own intrigue, as Aliya Garayeva had been holding the title of the strongest gymnast for the last five years. However, the titled athlete had left the big-time sports after the Olympic Games in London and the main contenders for the "gold" were considered Marina Durunda and Lala Yusifova. Both of them have a huge potential which they have just begun to expose, demonstrating their excellent programs. As a result, Durunda won the championship, taking over a peculiar relay baton from Garayeva.
Marina Durunda: The fact of being the present leaders of the national team together with Lala had a certain impact on our performances. Although, I do not think this fact brought any pressure for us as we train together. I was just concentrated on execution of all the exercises at high level - which was an indispensable condition to become a winner.
Now our main task - is to be the first one not only in Azerbaijan but also to win a title of the champion on the international arena. Our efforts will especially be directed towards it.
We got a very warm welcome in Ismayilli in front of the complex. They hold some sort of a festival with dances, welcome feast. And we just wanted to thank them for such a cordial welcome with our performances.
I would like to mention, that, I, together with Yusifova, performed our compositions demonstrated at the European and World Championships, for the last time this year. And, now, we have to prepare a new program and to draw long-term plans. It is necessary to work hard to improve the results shown this year.
Lala Yusifova (an Azerbaijani Champion with clubs): I think I still need to work hard and expose my potential in full. As you know, it is already an end of the season. We will work on new ideas, new exercises. I think the next step will be the European Championships to take place in Baku next summer. I suppose I will have a very good exercise with a ribbon next year. Our head coach Mariana Vasileva made a very good exercise for me which had to be "perfected". So, I will try to continue to surprise the audience.