Four Bulgarians Row for Azerbaijan, One About to Get Medal

Azerbaijan's Aleksandar Aleksandrov won his heat in the fastest time of all single scullers in the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Brest, Belarus, the FISA website reported on Thursday, 22 July. Representing his native Bulgaria until last year, Aleksandrov finished fifth in this event in 2009 and was the junior world champion in single in 2007 and 2008. Now he seems to be the favourite for the upcoming finals, due to win the first medal ever from a world rowing event for Azerbaijan.

Aleksandrov was a part of what seems to be the largest citizenship transfer ever in world rowing. Earlier this year, he got an Azerbaijani passport along with three other Bulgarian rowers: Radoslav Drenovski (male), Iskra Angelova and Toni Boteva (both female).

“The problem was in people and personal relations. (…) Some say we fled but may be we were expelled”
, said Aleksandrov's coach Yuliana Stoeva (female) on the reason of the Bulgarian rowing exodus in an interview to the Bulgarian website Sportal.bg on 2 May 2010, refusing to elaborate. In the same interview, she praised the “perfect” training conditions they received in the Mingachevir town about 300 kms away from Azerbaijan's capital Baku. (See more quotes from Stoeva in another article) Stoeva added they often go for training to Germany as well “because the Head Coach [of Azerbaijan's national team] is a German, Rüdiger Hauffe”. The Russian-speaking German coached before in Iran, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported on 18 February this year.

Further Reading

To visit the official website of the National Rowing Federation of Azerbaijan, click here. For an article in German about the developing rowing in Azerbaijan (supplied with a rich photogallery), click here.

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