On November 13 and 14, the 22nd Baku Championships and Competitions for Various Age Groups in Rhythmic Gymnastics took place in Baku, Azerbaijan.

There were about 110 gymnasts who participated in the said competition. These athletes represented the Baku Gymnastics School and the Republican Complex Sports School; the Ojag, Negtchi, Sparktak and Start sports clubs; and the Sarhadchi Olympic Sports Center.

hoopAzerbaijan Gymnastics Federation’s sports manager Azer Novruzov led the event’s opening ceremony, stating that the nation’s gymnastics federation has reached a great success this year.

“This year has been very significant for us. Firstly, I want to note the successful performance of our gymnasts at the 1st European Games. In addition, thanks to the efforts of Marina Durunda and Oleg Stepko, Azerbaijan won a place in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” he said.

The event was divided into two categories: the youngsters category (gymnasts who were born within the year 2005-2007) and the pre-juniors category (athletes born within the year 2003-2004). The gymnasts in the youngsters category performed their routines without the use of apparatus, with balls, rounds with a rope, a hoop, and rounds without props, while those in the pre-juniors category performed with hoops.

The competition between the youngsters went well, with Elnara Jabbarova finishing first after posting a score of 40,583 points. Emiliya Nagizade took the second place with a score of 39,717 while Milana Akperova (35,833 points) took third.

ballMeanwhile, in the pre-junior athletes division, Jahan Asadova took the first place with her score of 44,951. The second place was obtained by Nigar Usubova and Fidan Yusifzade took third.

The competition among those athletes born in 2007 was a huge success for the Ojag Sports Club athletes. Leyla Demirova took the first place, while Fatime Mammadzade and Zarifa Ahmadli took the second and third place respectively.

Also, the representative of the Ojag Sports Club won the first place in the all-around competition for the youngsters.  Sarhadchi Olympic Sports Center placed second and the Start sports club took third.

In the competition’s hoop event, Ojag Sports Club once again secured the first place while the representative of Sarhadchi Clubs and Baku Gymnastics School took the second and third place respectively.

According to Marina Durunda, a rhythmic gymnast and an audience in the event, the sport of Rhythmic Gymnastics is quickly gaining popularity in the country.

hoop2“Children, young people, every year, are more willing to engage in this sport. More and more sport sections are being opened in many parts of the country, and it is very pleasing. Looking at these young people who consider me a star, I want to work hard. By this, I can show them that through working hard, one can achieve more,” she said.

The athlete also expressed her impressions of the 2015 Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships, which recently took place in Stuttgart. She also talked about the Olympic slot that she have successfully secured for her country.

“We made a great deal of effort, over almost three years, to gain this opportunity. Finally, in September, at the World Championships in Stuttgart, I won and secured a spot. I believe I performed very well and did not disappoint my country, my coach, and the Gymnastics Federation. I will continue to work to adequately represent Azerbaijan at the Olympics. This is a great honor for me,” Durunda stressed.

The gymnasts also stressed that to ensure a successful performance next year at the Rio Olympic Games, producing good results in the upcoming competitions is  a must.

“Ahead is a new season with new competitions: the World Cup and the European Championship. I believe I should not relax before the Olympic Games. I should do my very best, so everyone can count on me,” she noted.

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