Mariana Vasileva: “Rhythmic gymnastics develops in all Azerbaijani regions”
25th Azerbaijani Championships and 5th Rhythmic Gymnastics Interregional Cup closed in Baku. After the championships, the National Gymnastic Arena hosted a big sports show called Golden Age with participation of national team and clubs coaches. Head Coach of Azerbaijani rhythmic gymnastics national team Mariana Vasileva told Vestnik Kazkaza about the event.
- Mariana you are at the top of physical conditions. How do you feel?
- I have never had hyper conditions as a gymnast. I didn’t need that being an athlete. Today it is one of key components of our sports. To be a top gymnast, one needs outstanding physical conditions and flexibility. We search for girls who are more flexible, more adaptive to make difficult elements and get higher points. Back to my times, the focus was on difficult accessories techniques. It was the difference between rhythmic gymnastics and artistic gymnastics or ballet.
Today gymnasts lack artistic expression. FIG is trying to return us to the previous standards but it’s not enough. We often see empty arenas because common people don’t understand gymnastics. Spectators don’t understand how a gymnast who loses an accessory twice can win a medal. People can’t see this is a higher complexity exercise but they can see that she has lost an accessory twice.
Why does everybody like football? Football has simple rules. Football stadiums are full of people. To attract people to our arenas, we need a joint work of coaches, athletes, and federations’ management.
The current championships took 4 days. But the arena wasn’t as full as it was during Golden Age Show. Some people bought tickets only to the show. The older person is, the more professional and caring attitude to his or her job is. If rules were a bit easier, artistic expression and accessories techniques were balanced, an average age of rhythmic gymnasts would rise.
- How did the idea of Golden Age Show come to you?
- We thought about it last year when realized that a coach should be a role model in everything for athletes. Our coaching staff is really young. I always hear: “How can such a young coach raise strong athletes?” I believe the age doesn’t matter if you treat your job professionally. Only experience comes with the age. It’s good that athletes and their parents saw what their coaches are able to do. Everybody enjoyed it.
- Did the preparation for the show take a lot of time?
- No, it didn’t. It wasn’t our key goal. We performed to pull our coaching staff together, to earn trust of our gymnasts so they could see that we do a good job as well.
- How did you choose the music?
- I always think about spectators and judges’ tastes. Judges have to work at competitions from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with short breaks only. They have to listen to various melodies and it’s really hard. Thus, when I create an exercise I think about people so that they could relax watching it.
- Why do you prefer the black color of your suite?
- We put on clothes that were close at hand. We didn’t prepare special suites. Women, including gymnasts, think that the black color makes then thinner but this is definitely not so.
- Do other countries hold shows like Golden Age?
- UEG has organized a festival in Italy this year. However, we can’t take part in it as participants should be older than 55. Let them wait for us.
- What are your future plans?
- I would like to share my new project with you. We have been holding the Interregion Cup for four years. We started with a small number of participants. Today the Cup took the whole day. Now we have group exercise competitions. I am glad to see representatives of so many regions, who do a good professional job. The majority of regions have gained medals today. All 15 regions develop. We opened our branches there. I selected 12 girls from regions and I invited them to come to Baku in January for a probationary period. I hope many of them will stay. My idea is not to make all of them great athletes and winners of international competitions but to raise professional coaches and judges for our regions.
- Do you prepare something special for the end of the year?
- We prepare our traditional New Year show. This year, we stage Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Last year, it was Home Alone. Some asked us then why the show wasn’t based on a national fairytale. Those who follow our New Year program from year to year know that we have already staged almost all Azerbaijani fairytales. Now we want to stage popular international stories. It will be a modern Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Our choreographer is very talented. I can see that not only coaches but also choreographers step up. Many foreigners come to us and want to work with certain choreographers.
Our choreographer Kamil Guliyev was invited to Brazil to give workshops. Our experts Natalya Bulanova, Anastasia Prasolova, and Kamil Guliyev were invited to give traineeship for judges in Moldavia. We had a really good feedback from them. Everybody was happy with their professionalism. I am glad we develop from day to day