Yashar Bashirov: Karate one of 20 kinds of sports at Olympics thanks to Azerbaijani president’s support (INTERVIEW)

Yashar Bashirov: Karate one of 20 kinds of sports at Olympics thanks to Azerbaijani president’s support (INTERVIEW)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 24

By Ceyhun Alakbarov – Trend:

Trend news agency interviewed President of the National Karate Federation of Azerbaijan, Honored Master of Sports, Member of the National Olympic Committee, Holder of the eighth-degree black belt in karate, Yashar Bashirov.

- Mr. Bashirov, how do you assess the level of preparation of our karate team?

- In general, an athlete must always be in a good shape and taking into account that the Olympic Games will start soon, not a single day must be wasted. Each of our athletes has potential. It is one thing when a person, after reaching a certain level, ceases to work on himself, but it is a different thing when a person is constantly developing. Each of our athletes is developing.

Today, more than 10 of our karatekas are among 50 strongest karatekas in the world, five are in the top ten, three of them are the leaders among the world's best. In my opinion, the athletes who entered the top ten will be the first to get a license for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Also, I'd like to point out that our team has the world's best karateka (Raphael Aghayev). In our country there is no other kind of sports, except karate, where the representative of Azerbaijan is the best athlete in the world. Therefore, the level of training in karate is always high.

-What can you say about Azerbaijan’s attention and care to such a kind of sports as karate?

- I would like to stress that one of 20 kinds of sports in the European Games was karate thanks to the support and assistance of the president of the country. During the European Games in Azerbaijan, President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach was watching the karate competitions for two days and saw the approach to karate in such a prestigious sporting event as the European Games. After the Games, he realized that the Olympics can not do without such a kind of sports as karate.

European Games have become a great impetus for the development of karate. This is not only my opinion. President of the World Karate Federation Antonio Espinos also stressed that. We and Azerbaijani Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov, Vice President of the Azerbaijan National Olympic Committee Chingiz Huseynzade attended the event, during which karate was included in the Olympic Games. Following the event, when we conveyed congratulations to Antonio Espinos, he stressed that this decision was made thanks to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev because the first European Games rendered great support and gave an impulse to karate.

- Our athletes have recently returned with medals from the Karate 1-Premier League, which was held in Berlin. In your opinion, which fight was the most difficult?

- In general, there were no easy fights at this tournament. In my opinion, the most difficult fight was between Rafael Aghayev and Japanese athlete Ken Nishimura in the semifinals. Earlier, Rafael Aghayev lost to Nishimura three times, but this time he won - 2:0.

Moreover, there was a complicated fight between the captain of the team Shahin Atamov and the French athlete in 1/4 finals. Yes, Shahin couldn't win, but his opponent was very strong, and also the referee was unfair to him. Irina Zaretska’s fights were also very memorable and complicated.

- What can you say about Azerbaijani youth's interest in Karate today?

- Of course, there has always been interest in sports in Azerbaijan. Today, interest in karate is at a very high level. At one point, the interest was low because karate was divided into several categories. The number of its varieties increased and everyone chose the appropriate direction. However, after a short period of time, sports karate of the World Karate Federation, where we are members since 1997, was included in the Olympics, and the interest in this direction has increased.

- Are there any young karatekas who demonstrated high results at international competitions?

- Presently, Roman Heydarov demonstrates one of the best results despite his youth. He became bronze medalist of the European Championship for three consecutive years. He grabbed the first bronze medal at the age of 17.

Asiman Gurbanly is also one of the strongest young athletes. At the recent World Junior Championship, Hummat Bakhshaliyev ranked second. Despite his youth, at the age of 18 he demonstrates very good results.

One of the promising female athletes is Fidan Teymurova. She twice reached the finals of the World Junior Championships. Besides Teymurova, among the pre-juniors Ukrainian athlete working under a contract, World and European Champion Polina Gurenko is a great promising prospect. If it wasn't for her injury, there is no doubt that she would've participated in the Olympics among the pre-juniors.

- What are your expectations from the Summer Olympic Games, to be held in Tokyo in 2020? How do you assess the chances of our athletes to obtain a license for the Olympics?

- In my opinion, we will receive at least three licenses to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. And, at least one of the license holders can grab a gold medal. The birthplace of karate is Japan and all athletes will try to represent their country in these competitions with dignity.

Of course, first of all, we expect Rafael Aghayev to win. Ayhan Mamayev and Firdovsi Farzaliyev also have chances of success in the Olympics. But first they must get a license for the Olympic Games. Among women, Irina Zaretska can showcase a high result.

- Does the Federation plan to organize any competitions and events in the coming months?

- The 9th ‘Baku Open’ competitions will be held in Azerbaijan on September 28-30. The competitions are dedicated to the 40th anniversary of karate in the USSR, that is, the jubilee event will be held in Azerbaijan. Athletes of the former USSR, whose names are written in the history of karate, will arrive in our country. Among them are Alexei Shturmin, the only three-time champion of the USSR Veniamin Pak, our compatriot Jahangir Shakhmuradov, Viktor Khan, actor, stuntman Alexander Inshakov and other famous masters of sports.

The tournament will be held in the Baku Sports Palace. The opening ceremony of the competitions, which will last three days, is scheduled for September 29. In October our athletes are expected to participate in the last stage of the Karate 1 Premier League, while in November - the World Senior Championships in Madrid.

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