Oksana Kurt – EuroVolley will inspire next generation of Azerbaijani Volleyballers
2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women
Baku, Azerbaijan, November 24, 2016. Oksana Kurt, probably better known as Parkhomenko, is one of Azerbaijan’s undisputed Volleyball stars. She made a name of herself playing for many years with the national team from the ‘Land of Fire’ as well as for some of the strongest clubs in Europe. As a result, she truly deserved to be standing on stage when the 16 teams participating in the Final Round of the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women were drawn across four pools on Thursday night at Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku.
Actually Oksana won’t be playing on home soil next year when Europe’s flagship competition will take place in Baku. She announced her retirement from competitive sport last year – after the 2015 women’s EuroVolley in Belgium. Azerbaijan lost their last pool match to Hungary, failing to progress to the Playoff stage and Oksana struggled with a meniscus injury which required surgery.
“My body kind of told me that it was time to stop,” Oksana recounts. “I have had so many injuries and surgeries throughout my career and I decided I would quit. I could have undergone another surgery, but this is not the main thing, it was more about the recovery process and long rehabilitation which I did not want to go through once more.”
Oksana does not have any regrets: “I enjoyed my time with Volleyball, I achieved a lot with the national team as well as with the clubs I played for and it was time to move on.” Kurt is now the Team Manager of Azerbaijan’s women’s national team. “I have a nice, interesting, challenging job which I really like and it is really exciting to be now working for the Organising Committee of the 2017 women’s European Championship. It is a truly historic moment for Volleyball in Azerbaijan and am now fully committed to working hard to grow the game now that I am standing off the court.”
Throughout her career Oksana played also in Turkey, Switzerland and Russia beside her native Azerbaijan but participation in the Baku 2015 European Games is one of the moments she cherishes the most. “I remember the emotional athletes’ parade at the Olympic Stadium and all of the excitement around the Games. Unfortunately, we lost a dramatic bronze medal match to Serbia and I still get tears in my eyes when talking about that match we played before a huge, enthusiastic home crowd.”
When hosting next year’s EuroVolley, Azerbaijan will be trying to use the home-court advantage to improve on their best result so far, a fourth place they claimed in the 2005 edition held in Croatia. “We have many young players who are very talented, maybe they lack experience but I am sure they will be giving everything they have in order to be as competitive as possible and inspire the next generation of Azerbaijani Volleyball players,” she concludes.