Firdovsi Umudov: "In recent years Azerbaijan gains fame as a sports country"
Acting head coach of the Azerbaijani National Free Wrestling Team, Firdovsi Umudov, told Vestnik Kavkaza in an exclusive interview about the development of wrestling and gymnastics in Azerbaijan, as well as the interaction between these two seemingly different sports.
Our correspondent caught the coach of the Azerbaijan team at the Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics and Aerobics.
- It was unexpected to meet you at the Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship...
- Wrestling has a direct relation to gymnastics. As a specialist in wrestling, I have always advised parents to send their children to a gymnastics school, as body flexibility and readiness to use different techniques largely depend on this discipline. The children engaged in gymnastics will achieve good results in other sports. Therefore, it is very useful to do gymnastics up to a certain age, especially for girls. Gymnastics plays a big role in the formation of a professional athlete.
I would also like to mention the attention of the state to the development of all sports in the country, and the current championship in Baku is a vivid proof of how the country treats the development of youth sport.
- A few days ago the Golden Grand Prix International Wrestling Tournament came to an and in Baku. The tournament was memorable by a large number of famous athletes and high productivity of Azerbaijani wrestlers. Are you satisfied with the results?
- Of course! Baku is becoming a global center of the biggest tournaments. The last Golden Grand Prix, which was held for the ninth time, brought together more than 700 athletes from more than 50 countries, was a striking example of this. In recent years, Azerbaijan has become known as a sports country, thanks to President Ilham Aliyev, who pays special attention to the development of sports.
This tournament was important for us also because it was held in memory of the national leader Heydar Aliyev. It is gratifying that both the number of participants and the desire of famous athletes from around the world to take part in this celebration of sport is growing every year. It is enough to say that this event was attended by the world strongest athletes, Olympic champions and prize winners of world and European championships.
As for the Azerbaijani national team, at this Grand Prix we gave the young composition the opportunity to show themselves, because after the Olympics in Rio the core members of the national team are going through the recovery period. But young members have justified our hopes, wrestlers won three gold, one silver and three bronze medals. But most importantly, we have seen new talents in the team, which will be included in the main team in the future.
In addition, at this tournament we performed the experiment in two weight categories, which are considered non-Olympic - 61 kg and 70 kg, and picked up the athletes for these weight categories, which will perform at the World Championships in Hungary on December 8-11.
- This tournament was a test for the coaches of the Azerbaijani national team as well. Was it your first time as a team's head coach at a tournament?
- Yes, but I have worked as the team's senior coach for several years. We have always worked together with head coaches, and a main team coach had the last say. Now as head coach, I will try to achieve the best results, inculcate the spirit of patriotism to the athletes, as these are important components for the victory. My main goal is to successfully prepare the team for an important start - the Islamic Games in Baku and a new cycle of tournaments, which will be completed by the Tokyo Olympics. I particularly draw attention to such issues as the health of athletes, their nutritious diet, behavior in public life, attitude to training, how they spend their free time, their ability to analyze their opponents. Athletes should be an example for everyone. Today, our athletes are highly respected in the community. Fortunately, favorable conditions have been created in the country. Taking advantage of the moment, I also express my gratitude to the President of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation Mehriban Aliyeva for her contribution to the development of sports, promoting the spirit of sport to our youth. I believe that gymnastics should be the basis for sport, and the organization of such tournaments is very significant in the promotion of sports in the country.
- Will foreign athletes be invited to the wrestling team?
- We invite foreign athletes only to create a certain competition in the team. There are foreigns in our team, but they have represented us for years. We pay great attention to the psychological preparation. In 2007- 2008, we had three strongest athletes in each weight category. For example, a native of Chechnya Zelimkhan Huseynov (60 kg) was invited to the national team of Azerbaijan and even became a member of the Beijing Olympics. Over the next three years, there were such strong wrestlers as Haji Aliyev and Togrul Asgarov in the weight category up to 60 kg. That is, there was a competition. And when there is competition, there are results.