by Simon Daish
Azerbaijan picked up a medal of each colour at the tournament, and head coach of the national team Mikhail Timofeyev outlined the country’s strong showing in the Junior Girls’ categories at the European Youth Championships in Guimarães, Portugal.
“We won the bronze medal in the Junior Girls’ Team competition… As for the Junior Girls’ Doubles tournament, in which 128 pairs participated, an Azerbaijani pair took second place. Among the 256 players who competed in the Junior Girls’ Singles tournament, Ning Jing was the best and brought gold to Azerbaijan”, Mikhail Timofeyev.
Positive displays in the Junior Girls’ Team and Junior Girls’ Doubles competitions were welcome outcomes for Azerbaijan, but it was in the Junior Girls’ Singles tournament that really stole the spotlight as Ning Jing became the first player to win a gold medal for the country at the Championships.
Coach Mikhail Timofeyev is a firm believer that Azerbaijan should continue to invest in young talent to help the team’s progress and has seen the sport grow in popularity in the country, especially with children.
“We are actively training our young athletes. A lot of attention is focused on six to 10 years old children. We have rejuvenated the adult team: athletes are interested in coaching, they sign contracts with our federation, which pays extra money to trainers so that they help children. Right now we have about three thousand children, who are really interested in table tennis. We are also working to make this sport more popular in Azerbaijan”, Mikhail Timofeyev.
Next up for Azerbaijan’s young stars is a trip to China where the team will be hard at work preparing for the upcoming Liebherr 2017 ITTF European Championships, and Mikhail Timofeyev wants to see more success for Azerbaijani competitors at the tournament in Luxembourg.
“In a week our children’s team will go to China: we will begin training for September’s European Championships… We want to participate in it and succeed”, Mikhail Timofeyev.
Chen Xingtai, Deng Simeng and Zhou Chuyi will represent Azerbaijan in the Women’s Challenge Division while Wang Chenxi, Yang Xinyu and Yusif Gafarli will lead the country in the Men’s Standard Division.
Source: Vestnik Kavkaza