Description of Figure/Doll

Handcrafted doll with wooden head, hands and feet. Her arms and legs are formed with rope. Her face is hand painted, and she is wearing a pillbox cap with embroidered trim. She has beads on her earrings, and her hair is braided yarn. In this culture, women often wore several headscarves over the cap. This doll is wearing a colorful textile shirt with sleeves and trousers to her ankle. She also has an elaborate, embroidered apron.

Azerbaijan

Location: Middle East/Europe

Capital: Baku

Main language: Azerbaijani (Azeri)

Currency: Azerbaijani Manat

Figure/Doll

Construction: wood, rope, cloth

Height in Centimeters: 20

Height in Inches: 8

Mariya Stadnik: Inspiring Girls to Excel in Women's Freestyle Wrestling

Reading Level: 5.80

My name is Leyla and I am 12 years old. I live in a country that is hard to spell – Azerbaijan. My country is about the size of Austria. It is located north of Turkey and is considered part of Europe or the Middle East. Azerbaijan has snowy mountains, wetlands, mud volcanoes, and forests.  Azeri is our official language. Our country is called the land of centenarians because many people live to be100 years old. Scientists say that this due to our good climate, life style, organic food, and good nutrition.

Azerbaijan has many sports such as soccer, basketball, skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling. My dream is to become a great wrestler. My idol is our Olympic champion Mariya Stadnik.  She is a national heroine, and she only weighs 106 pounds. Every day after school, I go to a wrestling club. There are 10 girls in the class. At the end of training, our bodies and minds are exhausted. However, we are excited that our first match will be held on Saturday.

Since I live quite a distance from the gym, I always take the trolley home. When I arrive home, my mother insists I do my homework before dinner. Tonight we are having dovga, which is a warm soup made from plain yogurt, cucumbers, onions and spicy meat. Then comes dolma which are grape leaves or vegetables stuffed with ground lamb, rice and spices. For dessert we each enjoyed halva, which is a pie with crunchy layers of sweetbread. 

When Saturday finally arrived, my family and I went to the gym for the match. My mother gave me a hug. My father looked at me very seriously and said, “Win or lose, we will be proud of you.”
I went to the locker room and put on my wrestling suit. My coach came over and gave me my final instructions. When I entered the gym, I was nervous. Hundreds of spectators were seated around the colorful mat. I looked across the mat, and there stood my opponent. I was surprised to see how tall and thin she was. She had a smile of superiority on her face as if to say, “Little girl, you don’t have a chance against me.” As we walked to the center of the mat, the referee gave us our final instructions. We shook hands, separated and waited for the whistle.

The first move by my opponent was to lunge at my waist. I anticipated her move and quickly avoided her by ducking under her thrust. At that moment I realized that I was faster than her and a lot more maneuverable. I said to myself,” I can win this match.” Since each round is only two minutes, I decided to become the aggressor. I faked a lunge at her ankles and as she dodged, I grabbed her waist and spun her around. Then I used all my strength and pulled her to the mat. When her stomach hit the mat, I held her down until I saw the referee raise 2 fingers. I scored two points, and the first round was over!

During the timeout, my coach said, “Stay low and create a very small target.” The second round started slow.  We both danced around almost like ballet dancers. I knew that she was desperate to score some points. However, she made the mistake of looking at her coach. When she was distracted, I attacked and I pulled her to the mat. Another two points went up for me! When the final whistle blew, I jumped with joy. The referee brought us both to the center of the mat and raised my arm as the winner. As I stood there, I thought of our country’s champion Mariya. Maybe I, too, will one day become an Olympic wrestler.


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