By Nazrin Gadimova
The 30th European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics will be held in Baku on June 13-15.
The large-scale event is expected to bring together athletes from over 30 countries.
"Competitions will be held at the National Gymnastics Arena, the construction of which is coming to an end," Secretary General of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, Farid Gayibov, told AzerNews prior to the event.
Gayibov said the main innovation of the upcoming championship is the National Gymnastics Arena which has all the conditions for everyday training - training halls, medical rooms, sauna, café, and even a hotel.
He added that the Arena was designed in a way that it can be adapted to all kinds of events and competitions in different gymnastics disciplines.
"Depending on the scale of the competition, the number of sitting places can be increased up to 9,600 in the main part of the Arena. I proudly state that there is no such Arena in the whole region. I would like to take this opportunity and express my gratitude to our President, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, for this unique arena on behalf of the gymnasts and their coaches. I hope the national anthem of our country will be heard frequently in this splendid facility," he said.
Speaking about preparations for the summer championship, Gayibov noted that the Organizing Committee, which ensures scheduled preparations for the upcoming event, operates under the leadership of President of the Federation Mehriban Aliyeva.
The logo of the championship has already been created and the website will be presented in the near future, he added.
"We announced the recruitment of volunteers and we periodically hold the meetings of the major departments of the Organizing Committee such as Directorate, Secretariat, Technical Equipment, Financial Department, Ceremonies, Medical Service, Security, Accreditation and Press," he said.
Speaking about the format of the championship, Gayibov said that this year's format to be the same as those in 2010 or 2012. He also added that the top 20 athletes of Europe, who have acquired the right to perform according to the results of the European Championships in Vienna in 2013, will perform in Baku in June.
"This top 20 gymnasts may include a maximum of two athletes per country and we are taking part with two gymnasts. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you who to be included by the head coach, Mariana Vasileva. I can only suppose that Marina Durunda is one of these two gymnasts. In this program, the gymnasts will compete only for one set of awards -- in the all-around," he added.
"For the first time, the senior group team will get a chance to perform at home. I recall that according to the regulations, only the junior group team participated in the previous two events. In this program, there are three sets of awards to be competed for including all-around and two finals. The juniors will compete for the team competitions where up to four gymnasts from one country must demonstrate eight exercises. There will also be finals with 4 apparatus."
Speaking about the Federation's plans for future, he mentioned the great progress achieved in the past 11 years emphasizing that Baku hosts the World Championships in 2019.
"Today our federation comprises six gymnastics disciplines. Along with four Olympic ones - rhythmic, men's and women's artistic gymnastics, trampoline - we have acrobatics and aerobics. We also have tumbling which is also not Olympic sports discipline but is in the same category with trampoline. In future, we will continue to develop and popularize these gymnastics disciplines."
Also speaking about the First European Games to be held in Baku in 2015, Gayibov said gymnastics will be represented with six disciplines at this event including the men's and women's artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, acrobatics, trampoline and aerobics.
"The format of the Games will be very unusual, different from the Olympic Games and European and World Championships," Gayibov added.
Speaking about the possibility of hosting more major sports events, he said that Azerbaijan can organize the Summer Olympic Games in 2024.
"The Azerbaijani President's contribution to the country can bee seen with unaided eyes. We notice it when we participate in competitions in different countries and then return home. I like to compare our capital city and our country to other cities and enjoy the progress that we have today," he emphasized. "I am very pleased that many people today are talking about us, our country, about what is going on here. Many people want to come and work here. I believe that we can host the Summer Olympic Games in 2024. Our country will turn 33 and the Games will be the 33rd Games in a row. Maybe it's not just a coincidence."