Azerbaijan’s senior men’s wrestling team claimed the top spot in the freestyle wrestling rankings of the 2022 European Wrestling Championships in Hungary’s capital Budapest this week.
The total prize count of the Azerbaijani wrestlers included one gold, four silver, and two bronze medals won in seven different weight categories of freestyle wrestling.
Magomedkhan Magomedovitch won the gold medal for the country in the 97 kg category. Aliabbas Rzazade, Haji Aliyev, Ashraf Ashurov, and Abubakr Abakarov claimed the silver medals in the 57kg, 65kg, 79kg, and 86kg categories, respectively. Turan Bayramov and Osman Nurmagomedov took the bronze prize in the 74kg and 92kg classes.
The Azerbaijani wrestlers ultimately scored 159 points to crown the European Championships, which brought together national teams from 28 countries. Turkish and Georgian athletes followed the national team of Azerbaijan in the team rankings of the tournament.
The recent achievement in Budapest clinched the third European gold for the senior men’s freestyle wrestling team of Azerbaijan, which won the same prize in 2009 in Lithuania and 2017 in Serbia.
The head of state made a speech at the meeting.
Speech of President Ilham Aliyev
- Hello, please sit down.
At the European Championship held in Budapest a few days ago, our wrestlers once again made our people happy and returned home with a great victory. Winning 16 medals, our wrestlers raised the sporting glory of Azerbaijan again. One of these medals was won by our female athlete and the rest by our freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling teams. Thus, our freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling teams finished first in Europe. This is a great victory and a tremendous achievement. Becoming first in Europe, becoming first in any sport can be considered a huge success. Of course, Azerbaijani wrestlers have once again promoted our wrestling, because wrestling is our traditional sport. Wrestling has great traditions in our country, and these traditions live on.
Some time ago, during a meeting with young wrestlers in this very room, I told them that when they enter a competition, they should not forget that they represent the victorious country and the victorious people. While sincerely congratulating them on the first place in the European Youth Championship, I said that they should make us happy in the future too and repeat this success when competing in tournaments among adults. I want to say again that finishing first in Europe both among young and senior athletes is a tremendous achievement. It shows that our wrestling traditions live on and a strong young generation is growing up in the country. Among adults, we always reaffirm our strength, and this enhances the sporting glory and the reputation of our country as a whole.
I am sure that when competing in the championship among adults, our athletes cherished the same thoughts and feelings and understood this high responsibility. Because it is a great honor and a great responsibility to represent the people who have won a great historic victory in a matter of 44 days. The development of sports and sporting achievements not only promote our country in the world and show our strength, but also strengthen the sense of patriotism in society. It was patriotism, devotion to the Motherland and incredible self-sacrifice that led us forward in the war for the liberation of Karabakh.
The young generation must be definitely raised in the spirit of patriotism, in the national spirit, on the basis of national values, and the Azerbaijani state takes advantage of every opportunity to achieve this. One of the factors that further strengthens patriotism is, of course, our historic military victory, as well as our sporting success. I am sure that the people of Azerbaijan – both sports fans and those not particularly interested in sports – are always delighted to hear about victories in sports. We are all very happy because you have achieved this victory. This is a very significant and unforgettable event in your life. These titles – European champion, silver and bronze medalists – will stay with you forever. And we are all happy because the young generation is growing up, young people represent the Motherland with dignity, everyone is in their place – an athlete, a soldier, a specialist. Every citizen of Azerbaijan contributes to the strengthening of our country through his work. That is why Azerbaijan is recognized as a rapidly developing country in the world and one of a handful of countries that is in charge of its own destiny, pursues its own policy, and gets the upper hand both on the battlefield and in the political arena.
As I mentioned, wrestling is a very dear sport for all of us. It is probably the most popular and famous sport in Azerbaijan. Therefore, taking this factor into consideration, coaches and representatives of the sports federation, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, should, of course, pay special attention to wrestling. I am sure that we will be in the forefront in future competitions too, of course. As for future competitions, the Summer Olympics will be held in two years. There is little time left, and I think that not only wrestlers but also athletes who will win a license in all other sports must already start preparing for this main competition. The right training camps and competitions must be determined. I am sure that it will be the case, and we will once again show the strength of our country and the strength of our sports at the Summer Olympics. Because Olympic Games, the Summer Olympics, of course, have a special place among all sports competitions. In general, I think that Azerbaijan can be very successful in the next Olympic Games. I can't say anything now because we are still two years away from that, but we must make every effort to achieve this goal. There is also the issue that we are already getting used to these victories. As they say, it will be difficult to maintain these high results. Anything can happen in sports – both defeats and victories. But I am sure that despite the results in future competitions, the main thing is that our athletes represent our country with dignity, as they have done to this day. I was also following the championship in Budapest. I saw that in the most difficult moments, when the opponent was behaving inappropriately and in an unsportsmanlike manner, our athletes were able to put the opponent in their place within the rules. While I watching that, I recalled the events of the second Karabakh war when the contemptible enemy was being defeated on the battlefield, was fleeing and had 10,000 deserters, it was committing the ugliest deeds, the ugliest deeds. They committed acts of terror against our civilians. Our peaceful cities were fired upon with ballistic missiles at night, killing more than 100 civilians, including children, women and the elderly. But as the war progressed, I said that we would never repeat the actions of the Armenians. We will retaliate the enemy on the battlefield. We will respond in a manner they will remember forever. I saw the same character at the European Championship, the character of the Azerbaijani people. Justice but, at the same time, mercy, and a certain degree of compassion for the defeated side are inherent in our people. The main thing is that we must defeat the enemy or a sports opponent within the rules, following the principle of dignity. Seeing this, I was once again convinced that the future of the Azerbaijani people will continue to be very bright. It will continue to be the case in any sport. For example, we have now seen this in football competitions. Our famous coach Gurban Gurbanov acted with great dignity and said in a situation that could be qualified as a goal that we do not need that, we do not need fake achievements, we do not need undeserved success. Whatever we have earned, we have earned it through hard work. We have also resolved the Karabakh issue with our own hard work, strength and intelligence. In sports competitions, the concept of fair play should not be forgotten and Azerbaijani athletes must always follow these principles. Because it is more important than victory. You know, victory, of course, is very important for every athlete, it leaves a huge mark on their life, so to speak. But dignity is even more important than victory, and we fought the war with dignity. Today, the whole world can see again the greatness of our people, everything is clear. This should be the case in sports too. It is the case now. You have won this well-deserved victory due to your talent and hard work, and at the same time, you have once again shown the greatness of our people. I congratulate you on both the victory and the dignified behavior. Of course, we, all the people of Azerbaijan, expect new victories from you. Thank you.
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The head coach of the Azerbaijani national freestyle wrestling team, Namig Abdullayev, said:
- Mr. President, first of all, on behalf of the Azerbaijan Wrestling Federation, coaches and athletes, and the entire wrestling family, I would like to express my deep gratitude to you for inviting us and meeting with us again. As you know, our national wrestling teams have successfully represented our country in two European championships over the past month. Following the European U-23 Wrestling Championship in Bulgaria, high results have also been achieved at the European Senior Wrestling Championship in Hungary. Our teams won a total of three gold, six silver and seven bronze medals. Our national teams in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling became European champions in the team event. The fact that our two teams are European champions is also a new record in our wrestling history. The meeting with you after the European U-23 Wrestling Championship provided huge incentive for our wrestlers. As a result, we were able to achieve good results at the European Senior Championships. There are more prestigious competitions ahead of us now. This year we will do our best to successfully represent our country at the Islamic Solidarity Games, the world championship and the World Cup.
Dear Mr. President, on behalf of the entire wrestling family, I would like to thank you once again for receiving us and for always paying attention to us. Thank you for your attention.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.
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Three-time world champion in freestyle wrestling and two-time Olympic medalist Haji Aliyevsaid:
- Mr. President, on my own behalf and on behalf of the freestyle wrestling team, thank you for receiving us. As you know, our freestyle wrestlers achieved successful results at the European Championship in Hungary. In total, we won seven medals, including one gold, four silver and two bronze medals, and finished first in the team standings in terms of the number of medals. Undoubtedly, these successes and victories are the result of your attention and care for sports. We have made such great achievements today. At the same time, we have always felt the attention and care of the Wrestling Federation. Thanks to this attention and care, we will always try to achieve great results.
Mr. President, one of my main goals is to participate in the Olympic Games in Paris and win a gold medal. You are aware that I have won two Olympic medals – one silver and one bronze. I think it is time to win a gold medal now. I believe that both our young wrestlers and those who are here today will achieve good results at the Olympic Games in Paris. And I hope they will increase the number of our medals. I wish you success in your future endeavors, a long life and good health. Thank you very much for your attention.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, thank you very much Haji, have a seat. I would like to think you have already won an Olympic gold medal. Because you are a three-time world champion and world championship is a competition of the same level as the Olympic Games. Perhaps the Olympic Games are a more exciting competition because they are held every four years and attract the attention of the entire world community. But in terms of representation and competition, the world championships do not lag far behind. This is why you have three gold medals as a world champion. You are now wearing only one medal as a humble person, but you probably don’t even know yourself how many medals have you. Do you remember how many medals you have?
Haji Aliyev: There are many.
President Ilham Aliyev: You have three world champion medals, then Olympic medals, you are also a three-time European champion. So if you want to wear all the medals, there will be no room left on your chest. We expect victory from every athlete. But the main thing is that you will take part in the competition. I know that you were a little hesitant about your future at the last Olympics. But it is good that you have stayed in the sport. You need to be an example for both sports and young people, for young people, for young athletes. Because being a three-time world champion is truly a historic achievement. This is why I congratulate you once again.
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Two-time European Greco-Roman wrestling champion and world champion Eldaniz Azizli said:
- Mr. President, on behalf of the Greco-Roman wrestling team, let me also thank you for appreciating our victories. As you know, eight out of 10 Azerbaijani athletes who took part in the European Championship in Budapest have returned home with a medal. Of these, two are gold medals, one silver and five bronze. We have scored a total of 165 points and set a new record in the history of Greco-Roman wrestling. It was the first time our national Greco-Roman wrestling team had become the European champion. Indeed, this competition was significant for us with records.
Mr. President, your attention and care for sports and athletes motivates us and inspires us even more in future competitions. As you know, the Greco-Roman wrestling World Cup will be held in Baku on 5-6 November. We first won the World Cup in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, in 2015. It has been seven years since our last victory. I am sure our athletes will do their best to repeat that brilliant victory in Baku seven years later, Inshallah. We will do our best to keep the cup in Baku, not to let it leave Baku. Thank you again for receiving us. Thank you for your attention.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, thank you very much. Eldaniz is also one of our outstanding athletes, two-time world champion and European champion. Therefore, I am sure that he will make us happy again in the future.
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The head coach of the Azerbaijani national Greco-Roman wrestling team, Aleksandr Tarakanov, said:
- Mr. President, I would like to thank you for appreciating my work and awarding the “Taraggi” Medal to me. Ilham Heydar oghlu, there is a part of your soul on this medal too. You are doing everything necessary for sports, for young people, so that we could work, try to win and glorify our country. Thank you. I wish you good health.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. Congratulations on the medal. You have won it with your hard work and with the results that have made us all happy. I wish you all new victories and continued success. Thank you.
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