Gurban Gurbanov: "I'm not living my youth" - INTERVIEW

4 June 2024 15:45
Gurban Gurbanov: "I'm not living my youth" - INTERVIEW

Interview with Gurban Gurbanov (82 kg), Greco-Roman wrestler of Azerbaijan national team, world and European champion (82 kg)

- Do you know the Qarabag head coach Gurban Gurbanov?

- No. Actually, I didn't initiate it myself. If we meet by chance, that can be okay. But what can I say? My name is Gurban, too? Gurban Gurbanov is a role model. He has a special place in our football. Meanwhile, not only our first and last name, but also the name of our fathers are the same: Gurbanov Gurban Osman oglu.

- You are cold-blooded like your namesake. Especially when winning.

- Yes, I am not a very emotional athlete. I try not to get too emotional when I win or lose.

- Last month, you defended your European champion title, even though it was in a different weight class. How did you reward yourself?

- Thank you very much. I could hardly rest. But now I don't train so intensively. There is no specific race that I am preparing for. Everything depends on the decision of the coaches. I have a couple of injuries, and I am currently focused on treatments.

- Is your injury serious?

- No, it's not serious.

- You have just switched to another weight category. Was this stage difficult for you?

- Of course, it takes time to get used to this weight. I think I could have fought at a lower weight - 72 or 77 kg. We made this decision based on the advice of my coach. Anyway, since I just started wrestling, I often change my weight. This means that I do not have a big problem when changing the weight.

- New weight also means new opponents. Who do you see as your competitors?

- Since I have just reached this weight, everyone is competing with me at the moment. As I have not yet proven myself at the new weight, I cannot say who my opponents are.

- Wasn't the European championship a proof?

- I don't think so.

- They say that you are well-educated. Are they right?

- It would be a lie if I said that I read books all the time. But I try to read whenever I have time. Or I like to listen to historical and philosophical debates. I think that a person should have knowledge about the world he lives in.

- Sportsman's life has many disadvantages. How committed are you to these frameworks?

- I don't live my youth as my heart wants. The work we have chosen is such that you have to maintain certain frameworks. You should pay attention to food, sleep, and discipline. I think that what I have listed is not only useful for athletes, but also for other people.

- Did you live your childhood to your heart's content? In general, how did you come to the sport?

- My childhood was spent in Muradkhan village of Kurdamir. Teacher Sharif, the coach of the wrestling hall in our village, was my relative. They said from home that the hall is open and you should go. They bought a couple of sports clothes, and I started wrestling. Honestly, I didn't know at that time that I would stay in sports. Because once I went, once I didn't go. Then my coach became more demanding, when he didn't go to training, he called my home phone and followed me. How do I know that I will come here? At that time, I was keeping pigeons in the village (smiles). Then they sent him to high school in Baku. True, at first I was encouraged because it was Baku, but I didn't know it would be so difficult. I was very young at that time.

As for the specific answer to your question... I was not a student like my parents. Because of our work, we did not live our childhood to the fullest. It's like you're running and someone is behind you. You have to run constantly so that they don't catch you. How can you live comfortably in these conditions? If you close your eyes once, you will see that someone has already passed you. To give an example, only ten people from Azerbaijan are going to the world championship. If you want to be there, you have to give up a lot of things. I do not think that this suffering can be endured for the sake of fame. Apart from the financial aspect, sport is also a struggle. After a while, you realize that you are already in the middle of a battle, and you don't want to lose. You can't bring yourself to leave it unfinished. When I first arrived, I sometimes cried because I was homesick. On the other hand, I didn't want to go. Where are you going?

- I think that it was the successes you achieved in your early years that did not let you go.

- Yes, I became the world champion among juniors. I was a European and world prize winner. I had good results. However, a person can get bored even from his favorite work. The main thing that kept me going at that time was the desire to fight. Look at some older athletes and you will see what I mean more clearly. There are athletes who have provided everything financially, but they still don't want to give up the fight.

- Are you a competitive athlete?

- Yes. Athletes I grew up with - Hasrat Jafarov, Nihat Mammadli, Rashad Mammadov... we all wrestled in the same era, in the same hall. There was quite a serious competition between us.

- How about friendship?

- I have a good relationship with each of them. Nihat is waiting for me downstairs now.

- Gurban, are there other athletes in the family?

- There is no one in our family who does sports except me. But I always felt their support. My father passed away. When I lost, my father and mother said it’s okay, you cannot not always win.

- Did your father see your success?

- Yes, he saw. I think that my father was proud of me.

- Would you like to participate in the Paris-2024 Summer Olympic Games that will take place this year?

- Of course. But I would not want to be in front of athletes who won a license in that weight. Because they have done big enough to get there. They have already completed a great mission and are nearing the end. Since I was in military service at that stage, I could not join the competitions.

- If you were in the team, would you be able to get a license?

- Actually, I don't know the answer to this question. Because I had just changed my weight. I also see their suffering. When Sanan Suleymanov enters the hall, it is as if you see a mummy. His whole body is bandaged, he exercises with injuries. Rafik is forty years old. His child will wrestle soon. How can I be in front of them in this situation? If we were to go back to the very beginning, another matter. Of course, I would do my best to go. Who wouldn't want that? You yourself would like to go to the Olympics.

Aytaj Sahed