Baku, June 25, AZERTAC
Anton Jeltyakov, Azerbaijan’s best swimmer at the Baku 2015 European Games, is putting his love of basketball on hold as he seeks to become the first Azerbaijani to reach a final in the pool.
The giant 17-year-old was the only one on his team to get beyond the first round of a swimming event so far when he reached the semi-finals of the 200m breaststroke.
When he is not in the water, he loves to shoot hoops.
"I'm an active guy who loves to run, play table tennis and basketball, but my coach is not happy if I play basketball because he thinks I’m going to get myself injured, so I have to listen to him," laughed Jeltyakov, who was left frustrated after just missing out on qualification for the 50m breaststroke semi-finals on Thursday.
Jeltyakov, one of the loftiest competitors in the pool at 1.95m, missed out on making it to Thursday evening's semis by just two places after finishing fourth in his heat in 29.21 seconds.
But he says he still has hopes of becoming the first Azerbaijani swimmer to reach a final when he goes in his best event, the 100m breaststroke, on Saturday.
The man who has been training in Baku over the last year after carving out a swimming career in Ukraine said: "I was invited to compete in Azerbaijan and I love this place. There's no stress, everyone's very hospitable and kind and I’m so proud to be competing for the country.
"I would love to be able to be the one athlete in Azerbaijan who can make a swimming final. The 50 metres was too short for me, but I think it’s possible to make it in the 100m."