Details added (first version posted at 16:51)
Baku, Azerbaijan, April 5
By Emin Aliyev - Trend:
Azerbaijani gymnasts will try to fittingly perform at the European Championship and please the fans, head coach of the national team, Mariana Vasileva said at a press conference held in Baku on April 5.
Vasileva, who is an ethnic Bulgarian, made a speech in the Azerbaijani language, which is a manifestation of respect for Azerbaijan.
"The national team has experienced a change of generations. Aliya Garayeva, who led the national team for many years, left it after the Olympics. At the same time, this change was painless for the team: during the European Championship in Turin, two our gymnasts won a license for the First European Games in Baku," Vasileva said.
The expectations for the upcoming tournament are not confined with this, she added.
"Of course, we are expecting surprises, the first of which is the arena, for which I want again to thank the country's First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva. I believe that this tournament will be remembered for not only the highest level of organization, but also for the high level of performance of athletes," Vasileva said.
She said that Azerbaijani athletes are preparing for the competition just like the organizers.
"As you know, both adult and junior athletes will take part in the tournament. The junior team will perform eight exercises in the team tournament. Each country may be represented by two to four gymnasts. The last day of the competitions will see finals in the exercises with hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. Very likely, Jala Pirieva and Zuleikha Ismailova will perform," the coach said.
Vasileva also added that Azerbaijani adult gymnasts did not participate in group competitions in the European championships held earlier.
"Thus, they will perform at the European championship at home for the first time. The team will include Sabina Abbasova, Siyana Vasileva, Aliya Pashayeva, Aynur Mustafayeva, Diana Doman and Alexandra Platonova. In the group performances the team will take part in all-around and individual events," the coach said.
"Some 20 gymnasts will compete in the individual event - Azerbaijan will be represented by two athletes out of those who showed good results in the last European Championship held in Vienna. One of them will be Marina Durunda. I have not yet made a final decision regarding the second candidate - it will either be Gulsum Shafizade or Lala Yusifova or Nilufer Niftaliyeva."
Azerbaijani national team's coach believes that the current year has started well for the gymnasts.
"We have already successfully participated in several Grand Prix and World Cup stages and prior to the European Championship our athletes will take part in several more such events. Aside from that, the national championship will kick off on April 19. I believe we will see a very interesting struggle in the adult competition," Vasileva added.
She also said all conditions have been created for the athletes.
"We are already training at the National Gymnastics Arena. This is perhaps the most beautiful such a complex in the world. I am grateful to Mehriban Aliyeva on behalf of all coaches and athletes for the care rendered to us. We will try to justify her hopes," the coach said.
The Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championship will be held in Baku between June 13 and June 15. Some 33 countries have made bids for participation in the championship.
Some 258 gymnasts will compete for nine sets of awards in Baku.