Rahiba Hasanova, Azerbaijan's first native-born figure skating champion, announced yesterday that she has obtained Canadian citizenship and hopes to compete internationally for her new country.
Hasanova, 16, first started training in Canada three years ago. She nows trains in Barrie, Ontario, an hour north of Toronto. The only times she has been back to Azerbaijan were to compete in Azerbaijan's national championships.
The decision to change countries was hard, she says, but necessary to further her career. "Skating judges don't take Azerbaijani skaters seriously," she said in a press conference. "Azerbaijan has a reputation for being the place other countries' skaters go when they can't succeed at home."
"I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Azerbaijan," says Rahiba, "but Canada is my country now."