Azerbaijan is a strong sporting nation, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said addressing a ceremony dedicated to sport results of 2017 at Azerbaijan National Olympic Committee (NOC) on Dec. 18, APA reported.
“This year Azerbaijani athletes delighted our people with great victories. Sports are rapidly developing in Azerbaijan. Every year our athletes achieve high results at various international competitions, returning to the country with medals,” said the president.
He noted that the number of medals won by Azerbaijani athletes is also more than enough this year.
“Azerbaijani athletes won 851 medals, including 347 gold medals at all international competitions this year. Compared to last year, the number of medals is higher. This shows that sports are dynamically developing and our athletes are making successive achievements,” said President Aliyev.
Azerbaijan achieved many sports victories this year, said the head of state.
“I would like to mention some of them today. This year our chess players became three-time European champions. This is a great victory, a great result. This result shows that our athletes are at the highest level in combat, team and intellectual sports. Becoming the European chess champions is a great achievement, a great victory indeed,” he said.
“This year, our two athletes - Mammadrasul Majidov and Haji Aliyev - became three-time world champions in boxing and freestyle wrestling respectively. This is a historic victory. Becoming a three-time world champion in Olympic sports is a great success, a great victory,” added President Aliyev.
He noted that another Azerbaijani athlete, Ramil Guliyev, became the world champion in athletics this year, and added that this is also a historic victory.
The president also pointed to the excellent results of Azerbaijani athletes in team sports.
Azerbaijan’s women volleyball team won the fourth place at the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship held in Baku, said Ilham Aliyev.
“Our women’s volleyball team was close to winning the gold medal. They were close to the victory in the semifinal. But I think it is still a great achievement to take the fourth place in a very popular sport like volleyball in Europe,” he added.
The president also highlighted the success of Qarabag FC in the UEFA Champions League this year.
“This year our footballers – Qarabag FC – for the first time qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. This is a great victory for Azerbaijani football. This team decently represented our country, our people and Karabakh,” he said.
“I remember some people saying we would not need a big venue like the Olympic Stadium when the construction was underway. They said we have the 30,000-seat stadium named after Tofig Bahramov and other stadiums, so this arena would never be full. Today, however, it turns out that more than 60,000 spectators came to the matches of Qarabag FC.”
The Baku Olympic Stadium is one of the world’s best stadiums, said President Aliyev, adding. “It is no coincidence that this stadium will host the UEFA Europa League final in a few years. At the same time, several matches of UEFA Euro 2020 will take place in this stadium.”
The head of state also spoke about Farid Gayibov’s election as the Secretary General of European Union of Gymnastics (UEG).
"This year, representative of the Azerbaijani Gymnastics Federation Farid Gayibov was elected the Secretary General of European Union of Gymnastics, which is a historic result because, so far, Azerbaijan's representative has not led a European sports federation. This is a manifestation of the development of gymnastics, in general, of the sports in Azerbaijan in recent years," the president said.
President Aliyev noted that many international competitions held in the country have already introduced Azerbaijan to the whole world community as a dynamic, modern, powerful state, and as a result, country's representatives now hold high positions in the European sports family.
“Of course, this year’s biggest victory was victories of Azerbaijani athletes at the Islamic Solidarity Games, held in Baku. The Games were a big festivity of sports, friendship and brotherhood,” noted the president. “Azerbaijan received the leading athletes from all Muslim countries, and I am sure they returned to their homelands with the best impressions. The Games held here once again demonstrated Azerbaijan’s power, and showed that Azerbaijan is a great sports nation on the global scale.”
Azerbaijan's squad ranked second at the 2015 European Games and first at the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games, added the head of state.
More than 3,000 athletes, thousands of experts and guests participated in these games and got acquainted with the realities of Azerbaijan, said President Aliyev.
“I have just brought to your attention some important sports events, but there were many victories,” said the president.
“The events and victories I’ve just mentioned give ground to say that Azerbaijan is a really strong sporting nation. I’m confident that our athletes will continue to make us happy with their victories,” he added.
The president said the Azerbaijani state pays great attention to the development of sports, and a state policy is being carried out in this direction.
Sports facilities in Baku met the world’s highest standards, noted the head of state.
“The construction of Olympic sports centers is underway in all districts. Two beautiful Olympic sports centers were built in Absheron and Aghjabadi districts this year. The state budget for 2018 envisages the construction of three more sports centers in districts,” he added.
So far, 43 Olympic sports centers have been built in Azerbaijan’s districts, mentioned President Aliyev.
“These centers open up great opportunities for young people, athletes and residents of districts. Certainly, work in this direction will be continued,” said the president concluding his speech.