Mariana Vasileva: "Azerbaijani gymnasts crave new victories"

On March 25 and 26, the Azerbaijani national rhythmic gymnastics team achieved success in the first major competition of the new Olympic cycle: the group team consisting of Ayshan Bayramova, Siyana Vasileva, Diana Doman, Alexandra Platonova and Elif Zeynep Celep took three medals at the traditional Rhythmic Gymnastics Grand Prix Series in the French city of Thiais. On the first day of the competition they won the silver medal in all-around events, they occupied the top step of the podium twice in the finals, winning two gold medals for Azerbaijan in the exercises with five hoops and the exercises with three balls and two ropes. The head coach of the Azerbaijani national rhythmic gymnastics team, Mariana Vasileva, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, shared her impressions of the competitions.

- How do you assess the results of the Grand Prix Thiais?

- The first competition is very important, because very much depends on it. The new rules were applied this year, all teams are obliged to present new programs, so the reaction of our fans and colleagues to our exercises was very important for me, the reaction of specialists was necessary. Already after training in Thiais we heard a lot of positive words in our address. Of course, it happens that the training is going well, but at competitions you fail to show all your skills, and this time I really wanted the girls to prove that they are a real team and it's difficult to prevent them from performing well. It's good that they performed well on the tournament's first day in the all-round qualification round and took the second place after the Italian three-time world champions, receiving the positive feedback from everyone. Before the finale, I told them only one thing: "Prove that it was not accidental, that you are ready to compete, that you get pleasure from your performances!".

- Was it difficult to resist the Italian team?

- Everyone expected that Italy will win both in the all-around and in the group finals. I cannot say that I did not hope for success, but, at least, I was ready for the fact that the Italian gymnastics will win. They are experienced athletes, even if they changed two girls in a team, they have a very strong coach Emanuela Maccarani. The Italian team is famous for its traditions in the group exercises, thanks to which the Italians became three-time world champions in all-around, and Olympic medalists. Of course, it's very pleasant that we are compared to them.

- Will the Azerbaijani team's motivation for further victories increase?

- Keeping the success alive is always harder than achieving it, but I think that the girls are very motivated for new achievements. This morning I saw them walking together  and realized that their eyes were shining, that they wanted more competitions and victories. Of course, I want to improve individual elements in the exercises as well, so we will strive for new heights, we will work on it. I hope that everything always works out for us.

- What things have been improved by the Azerbaijani gymnasts recently?

- I see that this year they have changed their attitude to tournaments for the better and now they understand the whole responsibility before the team and each other. I thank God that they performed in the Thiais finals even better than in the all-around. The hall was full, and the audience received us very well. It was most pleasant for me to hear the audience clapping and cheering the gymnasts after their performance. I really liked that we heard the Azerbaijani anthem in Thiais twice.

- How do you assess the organization of the tournament?

- I like this tournament very much, first of all, because it is held in a very cozy atmosphere. We are always happy to come there. Despite the fact that you can see the tournament only after buying a ticket, they are always sold out. The French public understands artistic gymnastics. This time there were a lot of fans from Spain and Italy, of course, they also congratulated us. And I am very pleased that it was the head coach of the team Emanuela Maccarani congratulated not only me, but also the girls on their successful performance.

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