A press conference of Halil Mutlu-three-time Olympic, five-time World, nine-time European champion, world record holder, well-known athlete, former Turkish weightlifter has been held in the Conference hall of AAAF Park Residential Complex. At the ceremony attended by numerous media representatives, the guest responded to the questions and informed on the reason of his coming to Baku, work carried out both in our country and in Turkey.
Firstly, Kenan Mastaliyev- the press secretary of “Zirve” International Sport Clubs welcomed the journalists. He emphasized that Halil Mutlu is the head of the Turkish representation of the club. The guest has been to Baku for participating in the presentation of the traditional “Zirve Awards”-the international brand of “AAAF Holding”, in the “Sharg” hall of “JW Marriott Absheron” hotel on January 14. Then, Mutlu took a floor.
– I have been a member of “Zirve” International Sport Clubs for the past 5 years. I attended the event organized on January 14 with great pleasure. There, we rewarded our young friends and wished them future success. When we see young people’s purposefulness and success in their eyes, we are happy too. We are here to share this happiness. I was here to thank all those who created this opportunity for our youth, and who organized this event on behalf of our young people. I am in Baku for three days. I have come to see both athletes of younger generation, additionally for vacation and relax. Thanks our friends for greeting us very hot. Everything here is good, hopefully tomorrow I will be back home with genial impressions.
– First of all, welcome to our country. Great to see athlete like you, and to attend his conference. You are three-time Olympic champion. However, Azerbaijan still has no Olympic champion in weightlifting. We would like to get advice from you: what should we do and what steps should we take as a country, as a National federation of factual renovated, restarted everything and trusted to the youth and juniors?
– First, a good younger generation should be available to train an Olympic champion. These youth are available – both in Turkey and Azerbaijan. But most importantly, good opportunities and conditions should be created for these youth. That’s why I’m just inside the “Zirve” is to witness the value given to the younger generation. Here, the education, the gym and the proper environment are all in one place, intertwined. I was born in Bulgaria, lived there until my 16 years old. But I was born as a Turk. I haven’t separated and do not separate the Azerbaijanians from the Turkish. Now, I see the conditions created for the children and say, “If only we had too.” In our country, we can benefit from the capabilities of the state only after we reached a certain age. However, the key is the starting point. Weightlifting like in various sports requires a tough, challenging path to success. We have to create opportunities for children and then give them time. The later the success is earned, the more it is durable and long-term. I has been first champion at the age of 21, especially among seniors. At that time, there were my colleagues more successful than me. They quickly achieved success, but they went out. I earned the success tardy due to my displacement and my necessity to stop the sport for a while. But after success, I triumphed all the competitions over the next 10-15 years. This is an example. Instead of quickly, solid foundation is vital. That is the basic advice, the basic way and the basic idea. For me, time and date are more precious than money. Of course, without good condition it is impossible to achieve these. But I’m saying that money is not everything. Presently to my mind that the infrastructure of this work in Azerbaijan is good and success-related. But again no need to hurry, just to be patient.
It is essential to state that we should thank to the President of Azerbaijan Republic Mr. Ilham Aliyev, as well as Tofig Heydarov, who continues his policy in the field of weightlifting. We cannot ignore this. Each of us has grown in a different country, a system. There was no great difference between the system of Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. We were all raised in a sports school, and then private institutions, besides state, launched to assist this. Like here. You are able to do it successfully. I repeat again: children need time and conditions should be appropriate.
– You talked about bringing up sportsman. Leading individuals in this work are coaches, head-coaches. Would you accept such suggestion from Azerbaijan?
– I have been a candidate for President of the Turkey Weightlifting Federation and have been defeated in that election. We put forward our candidacy with deceased Naim Suleymanoghlu – I would be the president, him vice-president. But we losted the elections. Now, it is not right for someone who has been a presidential candidate to be a coach. Actually, we had some conversations and discussions on projects with Tofig Heyarov. Meanwhile, he has donated an apartment to me and does his best to keep me here (laughs). But the transition from the federation president’s candidacy to coaching is a little bit impossible. The issue is not only on the position. Coaching is the hardest thing I can do. To be a sportsman is easy. The coach must be more patient than the athlete, be in the gym before an athlete and then go after him. The athlete is answerable only for himself, while the coach has a responsibility to everyone. I can do everything even politics, but not coaching. Because I am an impatient man. However, it is necessary to act with patience to the athletes, especially the youth. Today, if I come to Azerbaijan for coaching, I would have come to earn money, not to bring up an Olympic champion. I will not do it either.
– We noted that today the youth have preferences in the Azerbaijan weightlifting. You have succeeded from the younger age, but you have been able to keep up the pace until the end, and have managed to gain consistent championships. What do youth need to do to be like you, and what should we do to ensure their sustainable success?
– I only knew how many times I have been Olympic champion when I retired from sport. I did not know the rest: how many times I have become the world, European champion, how many medals I have grabbed and so on. Because I have never lived with the past. I have never looked past, and have drawn conclusions both from triumph and defeat. Athletes have to deal with work, not the figures. On the other hand, the fault is not only in the children, leaders too. We shouldn’t only focus on one champion, because in that case you can estrange 9-10 athletes from yourself. Whenever they tried to get closer to me, I was running away from them, and I went to my fellow athletes. Athletes should concentrate on what they can do, but not what they do.
– In recent years, many records have been broken in world weightlifting, and the results of the years are updated frequently. How can this be explained by the fact that athletes are very strong, or there are other reasons?
– I do not know how right or wrong it is, but the reasons are known. My records are updated too. Yes, the weight categories are changing, so many records remain the same. Perhaps the main idea of your question is connected with doping. I would like to tell you as a person fell in doping penalty in 2005: it is wrong to link all with doping. Some countries are really doing what is right. Others are doing the wrong thing very well. For instance, everything was wrong in my case. I never used the substance in my life found in my body. However you cannot talk to anyone. Because doping means theft. You did not steal, but that thing came out of your pocket … How would you explain it? What will you say? That’s why doping is a complicated, moody thing. We’re all wrong. When it came to my case, nobody in my own country owned me. Just before I highlighted that when you succeed, there will be more people around you. But when I was in trouble, no one was with me. You can make mistakes, but the important thing is not to repeat those. Doping is a very sensitive issue. We, as Turkey, are currently experiencing problems in this regard. We have difficulty avoiding this. However, the performance of some countries for years is just the same. Probably they work correctly without doping. I do not know. The key issue is to find and adhere to what is right as they are. If things are done straight, clean, and the records are upgraded, we can only enjoy it. The record is for breaking. We rejoice to see how our youth are strengthening as this process continues. “They” are doing the job accurate, we’re probably mistaken.
– Halil bey, is your first arrival to Baku?
– No, it is not. We all know Faig Garayev (well-known volleyball coach).I love him. About 15 years ago, I came to Baku with the invitation of him and his brother.
– What changes have been made to the city since then?
– More, particularly in the city center. Speaking of the sport, that time both you and us succeeded. Naturally, when it comes to success, getting closer is easier. We were also very close and in harmony with our weightlifting friends. Let me say one thing. I am a displaced person, and sensitive to this matter. At that time, Azerbaijan was a strange place for us. We did not know these places and thought that here everything is different. When I came in, I considered they would not recognize me, comfortable walking, but they did not let it (laughs). We love Azerbaijan. Even Baku has changed a lot since then. A simple thing: I was here 3 years ago. If you ask, what has changed since then and I can say “your road has been very good”. I see more athletes in the gyms in terms of sport. It makes me happy. But this is not enough for Baku, it should be better. Baku deserves more beauty. We are one nation, two states. We rejoice when you are happy, and when you are saddened, we disappoint as well.
– It is a pleasure to see the athlete like you here, especially in the AAAF Park. You are a resident of this place. This park is considered one of the most ideal place to grow an Olympic champion from the youngest age, because everything has been calculated and built accordingly. We would like to hear a few sentences about your place of residence…
– Let me just say briefly. When I was invited here, they asked where you want to stay? If so, there is a hotel where our event is held. Amazing place, everyone wants to stay there. Even not where you want to stay, just said “we chose this hotel to stay there”. I did not agree. I said I would like to stay in the AAAF Park. Because this place is valuable to us. It is not that I have a home here. The fact that the life here is colourful. There is a mixture of sport, youth, entertainment, and a peace. All in one place.
– You are the head of the “Zirve” ISC representation in Turkey. In the club of “Ankara-Zirve”, which is the center, other sports are also being developed, along with weightlifting. Generally, can you tell us about the work done there?
– Several years ago, a competition of “Zirve” was organized in Ankara. Mr. Tofig offered me to help him implement the work there. I gladly accepted. Judo and basketball team were available there at that time. Over the years, these types have strengthened significantly with the support of Tofig Heydarov, further improved and brought to the country level, as well as gymnastics and other species have been added. We are continuing our work with excitement in Ankara. The main aspect of the issue is that, especially in the Olympic sports, individual businessmen do not even care about sports and do not help. Everything is done by the state. But here the situation is different. We, as a country, currently want to take advantage of these special opportunities of “Zirve”. We, Turkish athletes, are very pleased with Tofig Heydarov and “Zirve” club led by him. There is a system that exemplifies to the world, we want to bring it to our country and implement it there. Hopefully, we will achieve this.