This Olympic year, Baku is about to hold another sporting event — the FIG World Challenge Cup AGF Trophy 2016.
The said event, which would take place from 19th to 21st of February, 2016, will be hosted in the country’s National Gymnastics Arena.
The Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup is about to accommodate a total of 146 elite gymnasts within the delegations representing 19 different countries.
World-renowned elite gymnasts, including Kenzo Shirai and Kaya Kazuma (JPN), Marcel Nguyen (GER), Alexander Shatilov (ISR), Oksana Chusovitina (UZB), Flavia Lopes Saraiva (BRA) and Dorina Boeczoego (HUN) will showcase breathtaking performances that will surely entertain their fans and other audiences.
The highlight of the competition will probably be Oleg Stepko, Petro Pakhnyuk, Kristina Pravdina, Marina Nekrasova, Yuliya Inshina and Mariia Smirnova.
According to the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation’s Secretary General and European Union of Gymnastics’ Vice President, Farid Gayibov, the decision to host the World Challenge Cup in Azerbaijan was because of the success of last year’s first-ever 2015 European Games in Baku.
According to Oleg Stepko, the first-ever Azerbaijani athlete who took home five medals at the first-ever Baku Games, choosing Baku as the host country for the World Challenge Cup will help further popularize the sports discipline in the country.
“Hosting of the World Cup is a big advantage which significantly contributes to further promotion of gymnastics. It will be very interesting as the athletes from Asia, America and Brazil will come to take part in the tournament,” he said.
Stepko mentioned the difficulty involved in their preparation for the event, which is due to the early start of the season.
“Normally, the season begins in mid-March. But, now, the preparations are going in an intensive way and with big training loads as the competitions’ season starts early. I think I will be ready for the tournament, if not in my best, but in the form close to it. Actually, the entire program has already been worked-out, some elements became more complicated, whilst there was not enough time to get it into the desired shape,” the athlete said.
Kristina Pravdina also mentioned the outstanding preparations that were done for the competition at the Arena. “The preparations are going in an intensive way, and it will be very interesting. One of the best parts of the competitions is an Opening Ceremony. In general, this will be the best World Cup, as, in my opinion, no one could hold it better than Azerbaijan. Everything is prepared here at a high level,” the head coach said.
Men’s Artistic Gymnastioncs National Team Head Coach Pavlo Netreba assures that the World Challenge Cup will certainly be something the audiences should look forward to and something to get excited about.
“Quite strong athletes will participate at the World Challenge Cup,” he noted. “Last year turned out to be saturated and hard, both physically and morally. Moreover, the boys had some slight injuries, which we needed to treat. But, in general, everything is going fine.”
The European Union of Gymnastics’ Vice President, Farid Gayibov, ensured everyone that the Cup will run at the highest organizational level. “Everything is ready: from meeting at the airport to the last award. I hope that our team will coordinately work during the days of the competitions and everybody will leave with good impressions.” he stated.
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