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26 December 2013


Attention of both local and foreign specialists has been compelled to the joint Azerbaijan Championship in artistic gymnastics, acrobatics and tumbling at Shaghan Olympic Sports Complex. One of the guests of the event assessing the performances at artistic gymnastics competitions, was a judge of the international level, the Technical Committee Member of the European Union of Gymnastics (UEG), Mario Vukoja, from Croatia. He noted the level of the Championship, talked about long-term plans and expectations from the European Games in Baku.

"How did the competitions go off?"

"As the saying goes, everything was on schedule. In general, it was very pleasant to work within such an experienced jury, side by side with a colleague from Latvia, the Technical Committee Member of the International Federation of Gymnastics, Arturs Mickevics. The Championship turned out to be quite interesting. You have promising gymnasts who have to work further to improve themselves."

"What are your responsibilities as the UEG Technical Committee Member?"

"It will probably be defined by the end of the year when the Technical Committee will gather for its working session. I am offered to be in charge of floor exercises in artistic gymnastics and I am ready to undertake this duty. As you know, I am from Croatia and we have to work in close contact with the countries in the region including our Azerbaijani colleagues. Holding of joint training camps can significantly improve the preparation level of your athletes as well as Croatian sportsmen. It will be a worthwhile experiment for our countries."

"Are there any offers which have already been discussed with AGF?"

"First of all, I would like to emphasize a splendid work carried out by AGF in the direction of gymnastics development. I have seen Gymnastics Arena - it is just magnificent. We talked about joint trainings of our national teams, discussed a number of other issues. I am sure our cooperation has a great future."

"In your opinion, how long does it take to train a world class gymnast at the average?"

"Gymnastics - is a very specific discipline. Along with swimming and athletics, it is a base sports. As a rule, artistic gymnasts begin to show serious results at the age of sixteen. And, if an athlete starts to engage in gymnastics at the age of six, you need approximately 10 years to teach him all the rudiments from point zero, to go through the test competitions in order for him to have faith in his own strength. With all due deference, it is not football. You have to work in perspective of two-three Olympic cycles here. Only in this case, you can see the results. Of course, it is possible to involve foreign athletes who help at some specific stage. But it is also possible to create training system for young talents in order to have not only first numbers but immediate reserve as well and which is able to take the place of leaders with the lapse of time. It is simply necessary to ensure enough time and have patience. But I noticed some interesting guys at the Championship who can show good results in a cycle or two. If to develop with such a pace, artistic gymnastics can be brought up to high level in Azerbaijan."

"Now, probably, everybody is looking forward to the start of the European Games-2015 in Baku as gymnastics to be represented on a large scale here."

"The most important thing here is that sports is strongly supported by the state in Azerbaijan. This point is significant and crucial in many respects, and, especially, while hosting such large-scale competitions. Baku already has an experience in holding the World and European Championships in rhythmic gymnastics, and, the European Games can be called nothing but the Olympiad. And, taking into account excellent logistics, human resources, infrastructure, arenas and many other aspects, I am just confident that competitions will be held at the highest level and become exemplary. You have potential and it should be used."

"What are your impressions of Baku in whole?"

"It is my first visit and I was thrilled with what I saw here. I was surprised by construction of beautiful buildings which combine modern and classical trends. They are perfectly fit in with city landscape, harmonize with its architecture. So, I was just astonished at what I saw."

"Considering forthcoming major events, it is probably not your last visit to Baku..."

"There cannot be any doubt in this regard. As the UEG Technical Committee Members, we have to assist you with the organization of the European Games as well. I am just confident that this event to be held at such a level that it goes down in history. And this history will be written in the capital of Azerbaijan."