10:18 17 July
10:15 17 July

Elchin Zeynalov: Our canoe rower could have scored Beijing gold with results in World Cup

Baku. Elshen Mammadov - APA-Sport. Azerbaijan National Rowing Federation (ANRF) president Elchin Zeynalov has attended the 29th Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China, as a member of Azerbaijani delegation.

The official supported Azeri sportsmen in various competitions and saw the rowing, canoeing, kayak, kayak-slalom and canoe-slalom events. APA-Sport releases the summary of Zeynalov’s interview to the ANRF official website.
- What is your impression after the Beijing Olympics?
- I attended Summer Games for the first time in Beijing. All of us have heard about the most significant sport event of the world. One needs to see Olympics in order to understand the meaning of these words. Beijing Olympics was a very interesting event. Not only me, but also the spectaculars who attended previous Olympics, as well as Jacques Rogge, president of International Olympic Committee, highly assessed the tournament in the opening ceremony. Beijing Games differed from the others in various aspects. Sport halls, beautiful and large facilities, organization of opening and closing ceremonies, as well as competition itself and the service by volunteers made a great impression on everybody.
- Do you think 7 medals is a satisfactory result for Azerbaijan?
- I think scoring one gold, two silver and 4 bronze medals is a great success indeed. We had many opportunities to gain higher results in Beijing while we used all our potential in previous Olympics. It was a good event that Azerbaijan joined the Beijing Games with larger crew than Athens. Besides other records, Elnur Mammadli’s perfect success and 7 medals are great achievements for us.
- Were the guests satisfied with the organization of “Day of Azerbaijan” in Beijing?
- “Day of Azerbaijan” was organized in a high level. State leader Ilham Aliyev, as well as officials of international sport organizations and world-famous sportsmen attended the ceremony. The guests were satisfied with our national candies and meals, as well as photo stands. It was the indicator of our hospitability. International Canoe Federation president Ulrich Feldhoff and his wife participated in the event as well. I met him a week later in the rowing competition. He told me, “We took part in many events during the Olympics. The most beautiful event for me was “Day of Azerbaijan”. My wife is in the same opinion too”.
- What issues did you discuss with the president of International Canoe Federation?
- Feldhoff suggested that Azerbaijan join women’s kayak competition. He told me that it is much easy to succeed in this competition as there are no many attendees. Feldhoff noted that Azerbaijan can achieve success here if we take appropriate measures in this field. I think we will take his advice into consideration and pay more attention to women’s kayak. We intend to make kayak rowing popular among Azeri women.
- What measure are you going to take as a first step?
- Azerbaijani rowing, kayak and canoeing championship will be held in mid-September in Mingachevir. The three-day competition will include 6 women in rowing and 2 more in kayak events as well.
- Do you think our national mentality hinders women to take up rowing sports?
- I want to show an example on this issue: Iranian women go in for rowing sports despite their veils. They even became Asian champions. Though there is no sex discrimination in our country, it is not easy to attract Azeri women to the sports. We face such problems more often in the regions. Nevertheless, we observe some improvement in this field. For example, the number of female drivers and athletes are increasing in the society. Azeri women have achieved success in volleyball, field hockey and handball. We need local media and secondary schools to support us. We need healthy girls to bear healthy children. They will also bring up children in the right way.
- What thoughts did you exchanged with the officials of International Rowing Federation?
- The main topic of discussions was the preparations for 2010 Junior Olympic Games to be held in Singapore. The qualifying competitions are to start next year. WE are planning to join the qualifying tournaments as well. We should admit that it will be very challenging to qualify for the Olympics as our team was composed a year and a half ago. For the first time Azerbaijan was represented in world junior and senior rowing championships held in late-July in Brandenburg, Germany and Lints, Austria. While considering the top ten teams, it cleared out that they were established at least 4 or 5 years ago. I mean the experience and regular trainings are very important to achieve success in this field. However, we have aimed to qualify for the 2010 Junior Olympics in Singapore. We pay a special attention to the preparation of under-18 rowers.
- Did you take notes while attending rowing competitions in Beijing Olympics?
I supported Azeri sportsmen in the Olympics and attended rowing, kayak, canoeing, kayak-slalom and canoe-slalom events which took place half-and-an-hour’s way from Beijing. I want to note that the venue was a beautiful rowing canal. Azeri rower Valentin Demyanenko who became the winner in 500-meter rowing event in World Cup third qualifying round could have scored at least silver medal in Beijing Olympics. He made the distance in 1:47.697 while Olympic champion Maksim Opalev from Russia advanced him by 0.557 seconds. It is a pity that Demyanenko couldn’t join the 2007 world championship qualifying for Beijing Olympics because our federation was newly established that time. Demyanenko didn’t join the Olympics as he was absent in the world championship.
- But Demyanenko stated after the World Cup qualifying stage in which he scored 3 gold medals that he had a little chance to attend Beijing Games.
- He meant wild-card but there was only one card for canoeing event which was given to an African country. We addressed the International Canoe Federation. They replied us, “Azerbaijan is not a country that has just begun the improvement in sports. The country will be represented in the Olympics with 44 athletes. Besides, we have scored quite many medals”. We were proud to receive such an answer but we were sorry to miss the opportunity to join rowing competitions in Olympics. Emyanenko is 25 years old. We will do everything to help him to qualify for 2012 London Games and perform successfully in the next Olympics.

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/ 17 July , 2018