Mariana Vasileva: "National Gymnastics Arena of Azerbaijan is our home"

Interviews

This year was full of events for the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation (AGF). Today, the AGF will host the last significant event of this year - a New Year's sports show based on the movie "Home Alone". Head coach of the Azerbaijani rhythmic gymnastics national team Mariana Vasileva discussed the upcoming show, as well as results of this year and future tournaments in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.

- This year was full of different events. What particular achievements do you remember?

- A lot of things happened in 2017. We held many events in Baku, at the National Gymnastics Arena. But I still think that the most significant achievement is the election of our former Secretary General Farid Gaibov to the post of President of the European Union of Gymnastics (UEG). This is a significant event not only for our federation, but also for the entire country. And the fact that our President and Vice-President officially congratulated him shows the level of this achievement. Of course, I would also like to highlight the achievements of our girls. National team reached two finals at the World Championship. And not only reached, they performed four times. Girls performed without losses, almost perfectly. After the Islamic Games, we benifited from certain changes.

- The election of Farid Gaibov became a significant event. Given this success, will you demand more from your athletes during international tournaments?

- The fact that he was elected is an indication that we're working and moving forward. All of this happened thanks to the leadership of AGF, led by Mehriban Aliyeva, Vice-President Altai Hasanov and Farid Gaibov himself. We have a well-coordinated team, management knows what it wants, and we know what we must do to meet their expectations. People saw the work Farid Gaibov did, the work his team did, the work coaches did, and they know what he is capable of. When you have such management, you're always try to perform at the highest level. When management believes in you, when you are given all the necessary opportunities, you can't afford to perform unprepared. But everything happens in sports. We were well prepared, but made mistakes. Girls are not robots. Sometimes we didn't get what we deserved for different reasons. We take all of this into account, we analyse it, and after any competitions we know what happened and why it happened, as well as how to avoid it next time.

- What changes happened in the team?

- The younger generation is coming. I'm glad that very young girls will represent our national team. Zohra Agamirova, who proved herself despite her young age and small sports experience, showed that she's a worthy member of the Azerbaijani national team in rhythmic gymnastics. She'll be joined by Daria Sorokina and Veronica Gudis, who will perform in seniors program for the first time. Their programs are already prepared.

We also updated seniors group team. Two girls left the team - Zeyneb Cheleb and Alexandra Platonova. But new young gymnasts came to the team, Zeyneb Gumetova and Aina Jafarova. Diana Doman, Siyana Vasileva, Aliya Pashayeva and Aishan Bayramova stayed in the team. I'm grateful to all four girls who stayed and continue to work, because they are the backbone of this team. We have two new exercises. They are very interesting, have different style compared to last year. We will show interesting gymnastics.

- What about the next year? What competitions will your team participate in?

- National team will perform at the European Championships in Valladolid in 2018. Junior individual team is also training at the moment. Leaders of the team are Daria Farshbafshahriari, Elizaveta Luzan, Arzu Jalilova and Narmina Samedova. These four gymnasts will participate in the European Championships. They all are very young, it's their first year, but they're very promising. And most importantly, they're very hard working and they want to achieve a lot.

- The Azerbaijan Championship was held recently , and then, during the "Golden Age" tournament, you performed for the first time in 27 years. What did you feel?

- I had to perform, because this is an innovation that I decided to introduce. Such competition was held almost for the first time in the world. If I didn't submit my application, few coaches would have participated. It was very interesting. I didn't have much time to prepare, I prepared my exercises the day before I had to perform. But experience still helped me. I didn't worry, although there were a lot of people in the audience. I wanted to show that in rhythmic gymnastics, the older you become, the brighter you can perform, because the emotional state is pretty different. You understand music differently, you understand that in life, you should appreciate every good moment. And you want to show it on the carpet, you want to show that this is one of those moments that you will never forget. I definitely won't forget this performance.

- You chose Emin Sabitoglu's "Bagisla" to accompany your performance. Why did you choose it?

- I love Azerbaijani music, it's very emotional, sensual. Music is associated with love, and love is the driving force of our lives, so we must love and go forward.

- Will groups' or individuals' new programs include Azerbaijani music?

- Groups won't use Azerbaijani music, but those who participate in individual competitions, almost every gymnast has at least one exercise that's accompanied by Azerbaijani music. Arzu Jalilova has three exercises like that. But not every music is suitable for every gymnast.

- Tomorrow the AGF will host its traditional New Year concert. You prepared an original program. Can you tell us about its details?

- We're hosting New Year's show of the national team for 8 years already. At first only rhythmic gymnasts participated in the show, but now the entire gymnastics team. It's very difficult to choose a program so we would not repeat ourselves, a program which the audience would be interested in. I want the entire Baku to attend this event, because our athletes carried out a huge work, just like our choreographers, our coaches. I think that they deserve respect, that their work should be appreciated by our citizens, our people. This time we prepared the program called "Home Alone", based on the movie with the same name.

- Why did you choose that theme?

- The National Gymnastics Arena is our home. And when we gathered, we found out that each of us found ourselves in this building. Even if you're alone here, you don't feel lonely. We feel the love, the warmth of our big family. This plot is very famous, everyone knows it, many generations watched this film. Brilliant things will be remembered forever. The protagonist is played by Dani, our acrobat. In the movie his name is Kevin, but in our version his name is Kenan. Everything is created based on Azerbaijani motives. His family goes on vacation to Ganja, travels there using AZAL, national airline... Everyone will understand it. Dani will deal with bandits using rhythmic gymnastics, other gymnastics techniques, acrobatics, aerobics. So it will be interesting. I would like invite you all to the New Year's show. You and your children would love to spend this hour with us.