Yana Batyrshina: "Azerbaijani gymnasts have one of the most complex programs of all"
The 37th Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championship kicks off in Baku today. On the eve of this event, Vestnik Kavkaza spoke with Yana Batyrshina, official ambassador of the Baku World Championship, multiple-times world champion and silver medalist of the 1996 Olympics. She talked about her expectations from this tournament.
- What are your expectations from performance of Azerbaijani gymnasts at the World Championship in Baku?
- As for Azerbaijani team, I really hope that Zohra Agamirova will be in the 16 strongest and will go to the Olympics in Tokyo. She's a very good gymnast, strongest in Azerbaijan when it comes to singles competitions. I also really, really look forward to team competitions, in my opinion, their program is one of the most complex ones of all, a throw after throw - objects constantly fly and are not in their hands almost all of the time.
I can say for sure that it will be more difficult for girls from Azerbaijan to perform. It's believed that it's easier to perform in your native country, but, based on my experience, that's not the case at all - on the contrary, it's even harder, because you see how everyone's rooting for you. I wish girls from Azerbaijan would perform calmly, because this is the most difficult thing. I know for sure that they are ready, Mariana Vasileva told me: “Everyone is ready”, so you just have to do everything cleanly, just like during training. There's a lot at stake, so I hope they succeed. At least 80% will rise when Azerbaijani team will begin its performance - this gives athletes strength, but at the same time it's much more difficult to perform in front of audience like that.
- Who should we pay attention to during this World Championship?
- First of all, Ekaterina Selezneva replaced Alexandra Soldatova in the Russian team, and it will be very interesting to see her perform live, she's a very talented gymnast. It's a shame Sasha can't perform here, I hope that this will not result in any psychological damage for her. It will be interesting to see the Belarusian team, all girls there are strong. Ukrainian gymnast Vlada Nikolchenko is good, I already saw her live at the European Championships - she is one of the youngest in this World Championship, let's see how she performs. I also really like Bulgarian team, it's very unusual. I would also like to mention Israel's Lina Ashram and Georgia's Salome Pazhava - they are original and memorable gymnasts.
Overall, this Championship will be very interesting. All the girls came to this tournament at the peak of their form, I have no doubt about it, so victory will go to the one who will deal with nerves the best. Competitions like that are extremely important, because this is the last World Championship before the Olympics in Tokyo.
- How does it mean for you to become the ambassador of the World Championship in Baku?
- I'm the third person in this position, and not a single ambassador of the World Championship has had as many pleasant things to do as I have. I feel like a real ambassador: I didn’t just come to the competitions, but I fulfill a mission. It's a charity mission: I met with young generation of gymnasts, visited rehabilitation center for children with disabilities. It's really surprising that before this event, organizers didn't arrange such events with participation of ambassadors. I'm grateful to organizers of the Baku World Championship, we have done so much good things together. During the Championship itself, I won't just sit on the platform, but I will hold an autograph session and workshop, where I will once again speak with young gymnasts and tell them everything I know about our sport.