Baku, June 18, AZERTAC
In a host country where sporting greatness is generally achieved by wrestlers, swordsmen and target shooters, the history of Azerbaijani athletics is relatively concise.
Last year's Youth Olympics bronze medal for 17-year-old triple jumper Nazim Babayev was the first Olympic athletics medal won under the Azerbaijani flag. However, the country does have a little-known Games history going back more than 60 years.
The first Azerbaijani athletics competitors to qualify for the Olympics in the modern era were Baku-born high jumper Galina Ganeker and long jumper Khandadash Madatov, both of whom represented the Soviet Union in Helsinki in 1952.
The first Olympics athletics medal won by an Azerbaijani native was the silver for sprinter Yury Konovalov as part of the USSR’s 4x100m team at Melbourne 1956. Konovalov, who was born in Baku, won another Olympic relay silver four years later in Rome.
In Munich in 1972, another Baku-born speedster, Aleksandr Kornelyuk, was part of a 4x100m team that won yet another silver for USSR.
Azerbaijani women athletics competitors have not yet been decorated, but high jumper Nina Brintseva remains holder of the national record of 1.80m, set in Baku in May 1969 when competing as part of the Soviet Union.
This year at the European Games, the hosts have several potential athletics stars, although there are no individual medals in the athletics competition in Baku 2015 under the European Athletics Team Championships format.
As well as BABAYEV, there are high hopes for European championship silver medallist Hayle Ibrahimov, the Ethiopia-born runner who is favourite in 3000m and 5000m.
Hammer thrower Hanna Skydan is another athlete who will be expecting to gain the maximum 14 points available in each event. The Ukraine-born strong woman has registered the ninth longest throw in Europe this year.
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