By Nazrin Gadimova
The 30th European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics will be held in Azerbaijan's capital on June 13-15. The breathtaking sports event will bring together 258 gymnasts from about 33 countries competing for nine sets of awards in Baku.
National Gymnastics Arena, specially created for the championship, meets all modern requirements, including press-service, first-aid station, gym and dance hall, facilities for doping control, as well as numerous ancillary facilities and a cafe.
Two juniors, two seniors, as well as a team in the group exercises will represent our country at the competition, to be held on June 13-15.
On the eve of the championship's top gymnasts of Azerbaijan, country's two-time absolute champion Marina Durunda and two-time medalist of the Europe Championships Gulsum Shafizade who will represent the country in the individual standings, gave an interview to AzerNews.
Talking about the preparations for the upcoming championships, Marina Durunda expressed hope that she will perform adequately and break into the medalists. The gymnast also highlighted the conditions created for gymnasts.
"This is just the upper class - we have everything that other national teams don't have," she said. "The Arena is the best in the world."
Speaking about the preparations for the Euro-2014 and her expectations, Gulsum Shafizade said she also wants to perform well and not let anyone down.
"I want to justify all the hopes pinned on me and prove myself. I want European Championship to be successful, and I want everyone to be pleased with our performance. I am looking forward to the moment when everyone will congratulate us. But of course, we need to work hard and reach the goal set before us," Shafizade added.
"Sometimes I can't make it, get angry, give up, but our head coach Mariana Vasileva and a personal trainer always support us at such times. We enjoy great support, and everything possible is done for us - we have our private rooms, huge training rooms with 10 carpets. We have our own sauna and steam room, and are well fed - this does not exist anywhere in the world!"
Speaking of school, the girls said they are taught individually.
"We read books and teachers give us homework. The frequency of the lessons depends on how much time we have left after our workouts," Marina said, adding she does not miss regular school. She also said they have time to take a walk, go to the cinema, and celebrate birthdays on Thursdays and Sundays.
"We're here as a family, and we live together and train together and even walk together," Gulsum said.
"I can not imagine my life any other way. I'm happy with my choice," Durunda said, answering the question about their chosen lifestyle.
Gulsum also shared her opinion in this issue, saying, "We have competitions almost every week. We have toured half of the world and seen so many countries. We are already doing everything by ourselves, and this is a big plus for us."
Speaking of their plans after the completion of a career, the girls expressed different opinions.
"Most gymnasts become coaches, but I do not even want to think about it. I live for today. Today, I am a gymnast. I've been asked this question, but I do not want to think about it," Durunda said.
"Time will show what will happen next," Shafizade said, in turn. "I want to stay in this world, but I think things can change over time."
Touching upon the upcoming event, Marina Durunda said gymnastics events in Azerbaijan are famous for its good organization.
"We will have very good organization, all the more Baku has changed a lot since 2009, when it hosted the championship, so everyone will have a pleasant surprise with the beauty of the city and the scale of the championship."