by Andrew Michalak
Pictures by Ruslan Alizade
The 1st European Games is continued but the IFBB Bodybuilding and Fitness Event was finished Sunday evening, followed by the farewell banquet delivered on the top, 18th floor of the four-star, recently constructed Qafqaz Hotel, on a big terrace with impressive panorama view of the city, including the upper parts of the famous Flame Towers changing their colors with the move of the setting sun and mild, light-warm delicate wind blowing from the Caspian Sea. One of my friends told that this conditions were similar to those God created in the Paradise. Anyway, those moments were of this kind you will never forget.
Adding the warm, cordial hospitality of the Azerbaijani sport authorities, with Youth and Sport Minister Azad Rahimov, who honored the finals of our event with his presence, and Azerbaijani Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation President Eng. Rauf Bunyataliyev, supported by his wife Nigyar and son Jamil, all of our event participants felt like in a family.
The event took place in the modern concert hall “Heydar Aliyev Palace” with a capacity of 2200 spectators and included Women’s and Men’s Fitness open classis as well as four Men’s Classic Bodybuilding categories.
The contest began with Men’s Fitness, including two phenomenal champions from Ukraine, top two of the latest World Fitness Championships in Montreal: Fedir Khashalov and Nazar Kharkhun. Their top-level rivalry has been continued in the recent years and is a feast for the eyes. Recently, Kharkhun used to win slightly the routine rounds but lost some points to Khashalov in the quarter turns rounds but in Baku their fight was extremely close: Kharkhun won the routine round by 1 point and Khashalov won the quarter turn round by 1 point, so they were tied 15:15 in total score. According to the IFBB Rules, Khashalov was declared the winner as he won the physique assessment round but Kharkhun is still improving his body quality and who knows the result of their next meet? The bronze medal went to the European Championships finalist Ferenc Rippel of Hungary.
Women’s Fitness was not less interesting as we could see on the stage the current world champion Dominika Multanova (Slovakia) and the bronze medal winner Emma Paveley (United Kingdom) as well as 2014 world champion Liudmila Nikitina (Russia) and runner-up Oksana Orobets (Ukraine) plus 2014 Arnold Europe runner-up and former world children and junior champion Nikolett Szabo (Hungary). A real “cream” of the fitness world! The challengers were the current top fitness children: Vanessa Belova (Latvia) and Aleksandra Kepa (Poland) and juniors: Jelena Lukic (Serbia) and Olga Mohylnytska (Ukraine). And, like in Men’s Fitness, different competitors won different rounds: Szabo was unbeatable in the routine rounds, Nikitina – in the quarter turn rounds, with the best total score. Szabo won the silver medal, losing more points in the quarter turn round as she is 17 years old only and can’t challenge much. more matured women in this round.
In Men’s Classic Bodybuilding all four gold medals went to Azerbaijan. Simply, they entered to the event their top champions. In the first category, up to 168 cm, the title went to former European champion Teymur Aslanov, who earned the perfect scores in all rounds. The Men’s Fitness champion Fedir Khashalov (Ukraine) successfully competed in this category also, winning the silver medal, ahead of former bodybuilder and athletic fitness champion Robert Horvat of Croatia.
In the up to 171 cm class, Azerbaijan showed a new star: Elnur Shikhaliyev, who won both muscularity assessment rounds and slightly lost, by 1 point, the routine round to the European Championships finalist Tomasz Laszko (Poland). The bronze medal went to the top Balkan classic bodybuilder Bojan Mitrovic of Serbia.
The up to 180 cm category had its clear leader: 2013 European Championships overall winner and World Championships runner-up Ali Emre (Azerbaijan). Two-time European Championships runner-up Andrej Varga (Slovakia) got the silver medal, while – and it was a surprise – former world Men’s Physique world champion Valentin Petkov (Bulgaria) earned the bronze medal.
The tallest class, over 180 cm, was dominated by the 2014 World Championships 4th place winner Kaveh Jazani (Azerbaijan) as nobody from the top three participated at this event. Jazani won all three rounds. Silver medal went to the former European champion Boris Orava (Czech Republic) and bronze medal to former World Championships runner-up Andrey Lopushankiy (Azerbaijan). Former European champion Dmitry Krilov (Russia) out of the medal zone this time. So tough was the battle!
The best teams were: Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Hungary, followed by Russia, Slovakia and Bulgaria.
2015 EUROPEAN GAMES – BAKU, AZERBAIJAN
by Andrew Michalak