27 December 2021
2021 was marked by a number of significant events and major competitions for Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation (AGF). Finally, there has been some kind of revival in many fields throughout the world, including our country. After a year of strict quarantine, our sports life has partially returned to normal, trainings at gyms are authorized, and the organization of local and international competitions has been resumed. This revival has been observed in gymnastics as well.
At the port-back election General Assembly of AGF held at the beginning of the year, First Vice-President of Azerbaijan Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva was re-elected as AGF President for the next 5 years. It should be proudly noted that within the 19 years, AGF, under the leaderships of Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, has become one of the most exemplary sports organizations not only in our country, but also on the international arena. As a result of its strategy implemented by pursuing comprehensive development in this area, AGF has been included in the ranking of top 10 national meritorious federations awarded by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) for 6 consecutive years, being the leader for the last ones.
Continuing the traditions of the past years, Azerbaijan successfully hosted 5 large-scale gymnastics competitions in 2021. The organization of prestigious competitions, returned the thrill and excitement of the competitions to Milli Gimnastika Arenası (National Gymnastics Arena), which everyone was looking forward to.
This year's World Cup in Rhythmic Gymnastics, originally scheduled for 2020, but postponed due to the pandemic, made happy both local and foreign gymnasts. More than 150 gymnasts from 35 countries took part in the qualifications for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo held at “Milli Gimnastika Arenası” on May 7-9. Our team in group exercises completed the tense contest with medals. The girls managed to take the 3rd place on the podium for the final performance with 5 Balls.
The pandemic, enveloped the planet, has had an impact also in the field of sports. This situation required the use of completely different methods and innovations compared to traditional ones around the world. The competitions were held without attendance of spectators and in compliance with sanitary and epidemiological requirements. The Local Organizing Committee introduced a number of innovations in this field.
One of the highlights was the presentation of medals to athletes via drones at the World Cup in Rhythmic Gymnastics in Baku. Another innovation was related to the media. Thus, media representatives were able to interview any gymnast online without being present at the competition venue.
On May 21-23, Milli Gimnastika Arenası hosted young Aerobic gymnasts from all over the world. About 200 athletes from 18 countries of the world competed in at the 9th Aerobic Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions, held in Azerbaijan for the first time. Despite the recent development in our country, for the first time in history of gymnastics, our athlete Maryam Topchubashova won the Bronze medal in the individual program among gymnasts aged 12-14 at this large-scale competition.
The 16th Aerobic Gymnastics World Championships became the third international competition held within the same month in our capital. At the competitions, held for the first time in Azerbaijan, our athletes managed to win the title of the World Champions. Our Aero Dance team members - the European Champions - once again justified the trust placed in them and mounted the first step of the podium in competitions with the participation of 166 athletes from 22 countries.
Towards the end of the year (November 18 to 21, 2021), another major competition was held in Azerbaijan - the 35th World Championships in Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini-Trampoline. Although European Championships and a number of World Championships were held in our country earlier, the “city of winds”, for the first time, gathered world-class stars soaring in the air for such a large-scale competition. The competitions, in which more than 250 gymnasts from 33 countries took part in, was remembered with the Silver medal of our representative Mikhail Malkin - European Champion and winner of the World Age Group Competitions.
The 28th World Age Group Competitions in Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini-Trampoline held in Baku for the first time, was the 5th international tournament organized in our country in 2021. In the World Age Group Competitions, held on November 25-28, with the participation of 650 athletes from 32 countries, 15 gymnasts in total represented Azerbaijan in individual and synchronized Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini-Trampoline events.
Magsud Mahsudov, the winner of the previous World Age Group Competitions, reconfirmed the title of two-time World Age Group Competitions Champion in a tense contest, leaving behind all his rivals in the age group of 13-14-year-old gymnasts.
2021 is remembered all over the world as the Olympic year. Azerbaijan was represented in 4 competitions in 3 gymnastics disciplines at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, which was postponed for the obvious reasons.
In Artistic Gymnastics events, our gymnast Ivan Tikhonov performed among men. Marina Nekrasova became the first woman in history of Azerbaijani gymnastics who represented our country at the Artistic Gymnastics events of the Olympic Games.
Zohra Aghamirova, a two-time Silver medalist of the Summer Universiade and a prize-winner of the Islamic Solidarity Games, performed in the Individual program in Rhythmic Gymnastics. 19-year-old Zohra became the first Azerbaijani gymnast who performed in Rhythmic gymnastics individual program at the Olympic Games in history of Azerbaijani Gymnastics. At the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, Azerbaijan competed in the group exercises after 13 years of interval. The team in group exercises consisted of Zeynab Hummatova, Laman Alimuradova, Yelyzaveta Luzan, Darya Sorokina and Narmina Samadova.
The performances of our junior and senior gymnasts were successful at the Trampoline Gymnastics European Championships this year. So, at the European Championships in Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini-Trampoline held in Sochi (Russia), the members of our National Team added 1 Silver and 2 Bronze medals into our team`s medal box. In tumbling events, Huseyn Asadullaev, Tofig Aliyev, Adil Hajizada and Bilal Gurbanov, won the “Bronze” in a Team competition. The Silver medalists of the World Age Group Competitions - Synchronized Pair, Huseyn Abbasov & Magsud Mahsudov, also won the “Silver” of the Continental Championships by repeating their Worlds result. Another "Bronze" was won by Mikhail Malkin in the tumbling competition among senior gymnasts.
Our acrobats have also successfully performed at the European Championships. Our Mixed Pair consisting of Milana Aliyeva & Nizam Khamidulin, who competed among the 12-19-year-olds at the European Age Group Competitions in Pesaro (Italy), were awarded with the Silver medal in the final of the Combined exercises.
At the European Championships, which took place after the Age Group Competition, our acrobats added 3 more medals to the National Team`s medal box. Aghasif Rahimov and Raziya Seyidli, who performed within Mixed Pair, won both “Silver” and “Bronze”. And in the Women's Group among the juniors - Mansuma Mammadzada, Leyla Bashirova and Nazrin Farmanova won Bronze medals.
This was not the only success for our women’s group in 2021. Thus, they also won the Bronze medal (age group of 12-19) at the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in Geneva, Switzerland.
It should be mentioned that in 2021, the members of our National Teams in gymnastics disciplines won 84 medals in total, including 17 gold, 31 Silver and 36 Bronze medals at the international events. According to the AGF rating list based on the results of the year, the top three places were shared by Mikhail Malkin, Rhythmic Gymnastics team in Group exercises and Aero Dance team accordingly.
4 gymnasts were awarded with the title of "Honored Master of Sports", and 9 gymnasts with the title of "Master of Sports" by the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the results they achieved in their careers followed their hard work.
This year, AGF, as always, has focused on improving the skills of coaches and athletes. For the first time, in 2021, AGF held an online seminar for coaches called “Step into the Future” jointly with the representatives of Israel. At a three-day seminar with the participation of representatives from 22 countries, important issues were raised and interesting topics were discussed. In addition, the development of gymnastics in the regions for the purpose of achievement of mass involvement in this area, was the top priority of the Federation in 2021 as well. During the year, master classes for our athletes were held by professionals both in the capital, as well as in the gymnastics sections operating in the regions.
Great interest was shown by gymnastics fans to Workshops, first national online festival and photo contest in Gymnastics for All.
Our National Teams’ specialists also distinguished themselves with their productivity. It is a pleasant fact that the activities of our gymnastics specialists have been highly appreciated by the international sports organizations. For the first time in history of gymnastics, the Federation's Sports Director, Natalya Bulanova, was elected a member of the FIG Technical Committee in Rhythmic Gymnastics, while the coach of the Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team, three-time prize-winner of the European Championships, winner and medalist of many international competitions, Siyana Vasileva elected a member of the FIG Athletes' Commission.
In addition, Azerbaijani judges, holders of the FIG judging Brevet in gymnastics disciplines - Natalya Bulanova (Rhythmic Gymnastics), Rza Aliyev (Men's Artistic Gymnastics) and Adil Huseyn-zada (Tumbling) - were awarded with the title of “Honorary Judge” of the European Gymnastics.
In 2021, Milli Gimnastika Areansi reopened its doors to representatives from other countries for an international training camp. Representatives of Brazil, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Latvia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Korea, Egypt, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Australia, Uzbekistan and Malaysia took advantage of the conditions created in the arena this year.
New Year means a new beginning. Everyone looks with great hope at the calendar changing every year and wish great achievements for themselves in the year entered.
A year full of major events expect the Gymnastics fans, like every year. We believe, that, next year, members of the Gymnastics family will continue to justify the trust placed in them.
With the hope that 2022 will be a great Sports year, we wish you all sound health, success and fulfillment of all wishes!