Tofig Heydarov: AZE WF will be in the front line of our nation’s sport policy

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The progress made in the field of sport is one of the key criteria that determine the overall level of development, economic potential of state. In this regard, the success achieved in the sport is parallel with the dynamic growth of Azerbaijan. Both the medals earned and the construction of sports complexes, as well as strengthening the image of Azerbaijan as a country of sports on the international scale are the foundation of our success in sport. Victory won by our athletes and the lifting of our flag in international competitions are the honor of our nation. In all periods of his leadership, great leader Heydar Aliyev paid special attention to the growth of our athletes, triumphs in international tournaments, to keep the name of our state at the tops, and was careful about creating all conditions for them. The head of state Ilham Aliyev successfully continues this policy.

It has already been a good tradition for our athletes to return with high quality medals from all international tournaments. One of the next such successes was achieved at the III edition of Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Arg. National team won 6 medals, including 2 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze. One of the athletes who grabbed medals at the Olympics is Tarmenkhan Babayev (85 kg), who is a weightlifter.

AZERTAG contributor requested an interview from the first vice-president of AZE WF Tofig Heydarov on the preparation of our athlete to the Olympic Games, the improvement and perspectives of weightlifting in our country. We offer this interview.

-Mr.Tofig, how do you rate the performance of Tarmenkhan Babayev at the III edition of Summer Youth Olympic Games?

– I lofty appreciate the performance of Tarmenkhan Babayev at the III Summer Youth Olympic Games. This performance is regarded as a gold medal by our federation and the athlete will be rewarded as the winner of the Olympics. We have grounds for doing so. So, T.Babayev was one-year younger than athletes at the Olympics. Despite the fact that he is 16, he achieved a remarkable result.The second matter lies on the athletes struggle in the men’s 94kg bodyweight category. The athlete became European champion in this bodyweight category. The weight categories in Olympic Games are cut down and the competition in 94kg was not took place. After the European championship, according to the coaching staff’s decision, our athlete performed in 85kg bodyweight category at the Olympics. However, the athlete failed to show the same results. These indicators were enough for Tarmenkhan Babayev to become an Olympic champion. Here, the time factor also had an effect. Athlete’s performance came at 2am at Baku time. It is encouraging that, Tarmenkhan managed to earn a medal by properly implementing the coach’s instructions. The minor mistake segregated him from the gold medal and the title went to the Italian athlete.

Our athlete’s medal in “Buenos Aires 2018” opened a new page in the history of Azerbaijan weightlifting. At the I edition of Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore 2010, Nijat Rahimov clinched gold medal. I value adequately one year younger Tarmenkhan Babayev’s performance with the Nijat Rahimov’s struggle. A year later, the result gained by Tarmenkhan would be the same as Nijat’s success.

-Have you been satisfied with the performance of the Azerbaijan Weightlifting team in the “Buenos Aires 2018 “?

-Last year, we pinched license for the Olympics in the team standings of the World Youth Championship. We did not have enough points to win the second license. In that tournament, we finished the 9th in the team standings. If we were the owner of the 8th, we would get two licenses. Our girl athletes had to get a license in the European championship. For certain reasons, the team was not allowed to compete. Taking into account the fight against doping, the increase of this sport among women and attention paid to the sport in Azerbaijan, IWF handed out “Wild card” to Lala Rzazadeh. Lala also met our expectations. So, she took the 6th in the last European championship. Lala’s performance was remarkable for us. For the first time in the history of Azerbaijan weightlifting, our country was represented by female athletes at the Summer Youth Olympic Games and Lala was 6th in the Olympics. As a federation, we will reward her considering the outcome as a bronze medal. It is the success of federation and coaches, not only of the athletes. The license was won not only by T.Babayev, but also by the team. I believe that, if the other representatives of National team could take part in the Olympics, they would be among the award-winners. I am confident that the weightlifters will keep on their success.

– What are your views on the preparation of our athletes to the “Tokyo-2020” Summer Olympic Games?

– After fundamental changes in the federation in 2016, only few elderly athletes left. For obvious reasons, the strongest athletes were suspended from the team. We set a goal and formed a team based on young athletes. Over the past ten months, about 200 analyzes have been taken from the athletes. Almost all were fresh out, except for 2-3 samples. Also, the development of this kind of sports in the country has prompted the international federation to terminate the suspension period earlier. Thanks to this, we were able to perform at the Summer Youth Olympic Games.

As a federation, we have waived from legionaries. There are lots of requests from overseas. However, we have set a goal of education of local athletes. Our principal contenders for the “Tokyo-2020” Summer Olympic Games will be juniors and young athletes. By the end of this year, our athletes will perform in the tournament of licensed character. Among juniors Mahammad Mammadli, and in the midst of youth-Tarmenkhan Babayev, Rustam Gasimov and Fugan Aliyev are included in the challengers for “Tokyo 2020”. An example comprises the three-time winner of the European championships, the winner of the IV Islamic Solidarity Games Sabina Azimova. We have envisaged a team formed of young athletes. Currently, the result of T.Babayev may be less for the “Tokyo-2020”. But two years later, things could be distinct and we can highlight optimistic statements to hope for the medal. Our athletes are experiencing a real growth period. I expect that our athletes will compete for medals in the “A” group of Olympic Games.

National team is preparing for these competitions very rigorously. Modifications have also been made in the bodyweight categories as well as licensing system. Athletes will be able to win licenses for the Olympic Games not for their team standings but for personal results. Points scored by our athletes in the competition will receive the right to participate in the Olympics.

-What kind of targets has been set in front of our athletes?

– The main objective is to be triumphant of the juniors competitions and turn our team into the strongest of the world. It should be continued on a regular basis. If last year national team became the European champion in the team standings, this year younger athletes repeat that success. And next year, we look forward these achievements from younger ones. Thus, every year we have set a goal to bring the winners and awarders of world and European championships. If we can continue this success for 4-5 years, our nation will be able to combat with any team of the universe in all age categories. We are supposed to do it.Because weightlifting is the national sport of Armenia that occupied 20 percent of our land. They only gain medals in this kind of sports at the Olympic Games. In many competitions our team is able to overcome their athletes. We must achieve this in all age groups.

We have intended to pinch successful results in the fight against doping. We are building halls in the regions. During the zone competitions, the athletes selected are involved in a yearly training camp. As well, elected athletes are trained and educated at the “Zirve” lyceum. There is no such practice in any country of the world. We are interested in many countries and it turns out that training-camp is not attached importance. In these countries 2-3 times a year, the process of training is organized. But preparations in our country continue throughout the year.

As a federation, we have started the selection of athletes born in 2005-2006 for the next Olympics. We should begin to train for the IV Summer Youth Olympic Games. For the regular training of our athletes within the year, Weightlifting Academy in Shuvelan, centers in Khirdalan and Astara are operating, as well as a large base in Moldova. Moldova will host the European Junior Championship next year. Our young team will board on the platform after training in our base. While it is easy to find success by using doping and various artificial nutritions, we are currently aiming to find and work with athletes of natural capacities. And this is possible on the basis of the mass. Athlete like Tarmenkhan Babayev is selected from among 600-700 athletes in the selection competitions. Our goal is to increase the number of weightlifting halls and involve professional athletes to the national team.

Due to the attention and care of the Federation President Jahangir Askerov, AZE WF in the short term will be at the forefront of sport policy pursued by President Ilham Aliyev. The President and vice-president of the International Weightlifting Federation, President of the International Weightlifting Federation, presidents of more than 40 national weightlifting federations highly appreciated the conditions created here at the Baku 2017 4th Islamic Solidarity Games and emphasized that the center of world weightlifting is Azerbaijan. If such a stupendous opportunity is created by the state, our athletes should please us with their results. I hope that the work carried out by federation will be fruitful in the near future.