Mikhail Timofeyev: "Azerbaijan will have talented tennis players"
European Table Tennis Championship among juniors (under 19 years) and cadets (under 16 years old) was held in the Portuguese city of Guimaraes. Representatives of 44 countries participated in it. Azerbaijani team performed successfully, its athletes showed the best result in table tennis since the country gained independence. Representative of Azerbaijan Ning Zhing won gold medal in women's singles tournament. She became the first athlete in the national team, who managed to do that in the competitions of this scale. Azerbaijanis akso took bronze in women's team tournament and silver medal in pair competitions. Head coach of Azerbaijani national table tennis team Mikhail Timofeyev discussed the results of this tournament in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- What do you think about the performance of your team?
- We won bronze medals in women's team competitions. We were first in our group, which also included Spain, Belarus and Hungary. Then, in the 1/8 finals, our girls defeated Norway (3:1), and then we beat Poland in the quarter-finals with the same score. In the semi-finals we lost to Romania (1:3) and took the third place. As for women's pair tournament, in which 128 pairs participated, Azerbaijani pair took the second place. Among 256 girls who competed in a single tournament, Ning Zhing was the best and brought gold to Azerbaijan.
- What teams impressed you the most?
- I would like to mention Russian team. It achieved very good results. It won three gold medails and a silver one in team competitions.
- How long have you been head coach of Azerbaijan's national team?
- I was born in Azerbaijan, trained in table tennis. Before that I worked as a coach of cadets national team for about eight years.
- Your team has a lot of foreign players from China. How good are Azerbaijani athletes compared to them?
- We are actively training our young athletes. A lot of attention is paid to 6-10 years old children. We have rejuvenated adult's team: athletes are interested in coaching, they sign contract with our federation, which pays extra money to trainers so that they help children. Right now we have about three thousand children, who are really interested in table tennis. We are also working to make this sport more popular in Azerbaijan.
- Is there any development strategy?
- Federation buys inventory, distributes it in sport schools, normal schools, so people see this sport, they try it. I think that if a person succeeds, and it's not really that difficult, he will continue play and train. In the future, if there will be many athletes, we will have talented tennis players. It's just that current conditions are not enough to prepare world and European champions. And that's why we send Azerbaijani athletes to China, where they train.
- What are your plans for the future?
- In a week our children's team will go to China: we will begin training for September's European Championships among adults. We also want to participate in it and succeed.
- How experts view the fact that China "exports" its tennis players across almost the entire world?
- Russia is interested not in Chinese tennis players, but in their specialists and coaches. Russian athletes also have training camps in China. Chinese players and coaches are the strongest even in European countries, for example, in Germany, where this sport is really developed. Nevertheless, there are also Chinese players in German team, especially among women.