Farhad Aliyev: "We will present our cyclists for first time in Hungary"
In recent years, cycling has been actively developing in Azerbaijan. The Tour d'Azerbaïdjan -2017 cycling race will be held there on May 3-7, and recently the first Azerbaijani female amateur cycling team 'Ladies on Bikes' was presented at the republican cycle track. The presentation was attended by representatives of the National Olympic Committee, the deputies, the head of the Main Administration of Youth and Sport of Baku, Ragif Abbasov. The team consists of two dozen cyclists, and the representative of the Azerbaijan Cycling Federation, twice world champion Tamara Polyakova, became an honorary member of the team. Secretary General of the Azerbaijan Cycling Federation, Farhad Aliyev, told Vestnik Kavkaza about the team and the development of cycling in the country.
- How does the Federation develop cycling in Azerbaijan?
- When the new president of the Federation has been appointed, dramatic changes have occurred in the history of cycling. We started to develop the Tour d'Azerbaïdjan. This year the race took place for the fifth time, both in Baku and in the regions. Cycling is developing across the whole country. Our races were shown on 'Eurosport' and other foreign television channels. Our Sinergy Baku team includes professional athletes, including foreigners. The team members fulfilled their mission, winning for us a license to the Olympic Games in Rio. This year we decided to change the concept - now the team will be staffed entirely by Azerbaijani sportsmen.
We started holding competitions in the country, including 4-5 regions. There are cycling clubs in Olympic complexes in Ismayilli, Oguz and Sumgait. It is encouraging that this process is on the rise, and more and more athletes from the regions participate in the competitions every year.
Now we are preparing for the Olympic festival in Hungary, where we are going to introduce our cyclists for the first time. Women's cycling has not been developed in Azerbaijan for several reasons, in particular because of the mentality. But today, we have formed a team, which includes amateurs in addition to professionals. Recently, a female amateur cycling club was created. They hold seminars, trying to attract women in this sport.
Until now, we have attracted foreign players to make the competitions more spectacular. But now we will use our own athletes.
- How popular is cycling in Azerbaijan today?
- We conduct various activities to promote it and attract children and young people to cycling - various tournaments among universities, secondary schools in each region. Now we are going to organize a joint event with the Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, which will cover schools of Baku, Sumgait, Ganja and Goygol.
In addition, we hold bicycle races during the whole year, devoted to different important dates. For example, recently there was a race dedicated to the Flag Day. Every year we hold such events dedicated to the Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis.
In recent years, a number of cyclist in Baku has been increased. In the capital, now we see people who travel to work by bike. We also try to ensure that people see a bicycle not as a sport solely, but also as an option for public transport.
- A bicycle manufacturing plant has recently been open in Azerbaijan. Will it affect the development of cycling?
- Of course! The factory in Ismayilli opens a lot of opportunities. We will have bicycles of own production, which will lower their prices in the market and attract more fans of cycling. We would not need to purchase bicycles from abroad. The Ministry, schools and the Federation will be able to buy cheaper bikes and distribute them. I think that this initiative will open up great opportunities for the development of cycling in Azerbaijan.
- We met at the rhythmic gymnastics tournament. Are you a fan of this sport?
- I have become interested in it recently. It happened thanks to an acquaintance with the head coach of the Azerbaijani national team, Mariana Vasileva, and the Secretary General of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, Farid Gaibov, at the Olympic Games in Rio. After the Olympic Games in Brazil I have become interested in gymnastics. It's very exciting, spectacular and raises the sporting spirit of the young generation. It is a pleasure to see the Federation of gymnastics developing sports in the country and focusing on the development of gymnastics among children. It is a huge work and an exorbitant contribution to the development of sports in the country.