Federation Friday: Azerbaijan

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Federation Friday: Azerbaijan

July 29, 2016

This week we turn to the Land of Fire where the popularity of gymnastics is soaring


A dynamism, liveliness, a purposefulness, clear goals, an involvement of young staff, a creativity – all this characterizes Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation (AGF) since its reestablishment and election of First Lady of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva as its President in 2002. The next years to come, the Federation would already host the World Cup series in Rhythmic Gymnastics in 2003, 2004 and 2005. The 2005 World Championships were also held in Baku, which became the first in history of independent Azerbaijan and on whole territory of the post-Soviet states in general. Then, followed the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in 2007, 2009 and 2014.

The President and First Lady of Azerbaijan visit the Azerbaijani gymnasts at the 2015 European Games

Last weekend, lively excitement had a place at Baku’s Milli Gimnastika Arenası (MGA, National Gymnastics Arena). It hosted the final series of the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup. While rhythmic gymnasts, participants of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were trying out their routines on the magnificent Field of Play of the main arena like Azerbaijani gymnast Marina Durunda, artistic gymnasts Oleg Stepko and Petro Pakhnyuk were completing their final preparation stage before setting out for Rio at its subsidiary training facility. By the way, the first time Azerbaijan was represented at Rhythmic Gymnastics competitions of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, and, at Artistic Gymnastics events in London 2012. The countries’ rhythmic gymnasts also competed in the Games in 2008 (both individual and group exercises) and 2012.

Coming back to the MGA, gymnastics specialized facility opened by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva in 2014, is actually used to see the famous gymnasts of Europe and the world, since it has been put into operation and members of the National Teams in 6 competitive as well as in 1 non-competitive gymnastics disciplines recognized by the FIG are training there. Besides, the European Championships held in Baku for the third time in 2014, Baku 2015 First European Games where it embraced the European Gymnastics family in 6 gymnastics disciplines, followed by the 2016’s FIG World Cup series in Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics and Trampoline Gymnastics, its doors have always been opened to the athletes joining the training camp from all the corners of the World - Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, even from the Oceania zone.

Medals of Azerbaijani gymnasts in Olympic disciplines - at the Rhythmic Gymnastics European and World Championships since 2007, Men’s Artistic Gymnastics since 2015, establishment of Women’s Artistic Gymnastics and Trampoline Gymnastics in the country in late 2013 and first successes in this discipline are the results of active and tireless work of the athletes and coaches, dynamism of development programme directed to the implementation of clear goals set by the Federation as well as birth of new objectives in the way of further progress.

Oleg Stepko, 5-time medalist at the 2015 European Games

As for non-Olympic Disciplines, Azerbaijani women’s pair in Acrobatic Gymnastics became the European Champion in 2009, men’s pair and mixed pairs were the silver medallists of the World Age Group competitions in 2016. Azerbaijan was represented at Aerobic Gymnastics events of the First European Games, a development of which commenced in late 2013.

Behind all this achievements, of course, there is a coaching staff putting their heart and soul into the performances of their gymnasts. They are always supported by the Federation and encouraged to take part at national and international courses to enhance their professional skills.

The creative approach of Head Coach of the Azerbaijani Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team Mrs Mariana Vasileva to her professional activity, led to the creation of several unforgettable images on rhythmic floor. One of them to be mentioned is creation of “Jacksons” – the composition executed by the junior group team with 5 balls to the music of a legendary pop king - Michael Jackson's famous song “Smooth Criminal” at the 2015 European Championships in Minsk. The girls were so popular that were invited to repeat their performance for the European audience at various gymnastics shows. Their performances were viewed online more than by 1.800.000 people on Facebook.

Marina Durunda, silver medalist at the 2015 European Games

Passion for new ideas, healthy lifestyle, harmony of gymnastics, music and art led to the official recognition of the 7th non-competitive gymnastics discipline in Azerbaijan - Gymnastics for All - when a team of athletes set out for Helsinki (Finland) to take part in the 2015 World Gymnaestrada with beautiful performances. But its basis at national level was actually founded with staging shows at Opening Ceremonies of the major international competitions hosted as well as on New Year’s Eve since 2009 where all the coaches and choreographers took the floor.

Within the 14 years of development and work carried out for the development of gymnastics disciplines, Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation was also active on the international arena. Its representatives have been elected to the different UEG and FIG authorities. For the last 2 years, Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation was among the five Federations the activity of which was merited by the FIG in 2014 and 2015. The young professional staff of the Federation, committedly carrying out its duties every day, embraces the devoted members of the Local Organizing Committee jointly making every effort to host events at high level.

Thus, a sparkle of world gymnastics has found its great progressive space on the land of fire – Azerbaijan, where, besides its capital, gymnastics sections operate at its 14 regions.

Azerbaijan's National Team

For more info about the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation:

Official web page: http://agf.az

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/azegymnastics

Twitter: https://twitter.com/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl8-Mfc5w5pchi33D2aWmxA

Text and photos: Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation