Local boy Babayev hoping for more gold in Baku

11 May 2017

Azerbaijani track and field star Nazim Babayev is determined to repeat his gold medal-winning performance from the 2015 European Games at the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games, which will also be held in the capital Baku from May 12-22.

Babayev was just 17 years old when he leapt out to 16.38 metres to snatch triple jump gold on home soil two years ago, one of 21 gold medals for the host nation at those inaugural games.

"I have been training hard ever since the European Games because I want to win the gold medal again," Babayev said.

"I want to hear the Azerbaijan national anthem ring out in the Baku Olympic Stadium."

Boosted by his European Games success, Babayev went on to be crowned European Junior Champion a month later in Sweden, securing gold with a championship record leap of 17.04 metres that remains his personal best.

He also qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, but was hampered by a foot injury and failed to make the triple jump final.

Now back to full fitness, the 19-year-old feels he is capable of going further than ever before at the Solidarity Games.

"I couldn't do my best in Rio, but at Baku 2017 I think I can beat my record and win another gold medal. Our target is to increase the medal haul from the last Islamic Solidarity Games."

To that end, Azerbaijan has assembled a team of almost 400 athletes, who should comfortably surpass the country's medal count of 24 (six gold, nine silver, nine bronze) from the third edition of the Solidarity Games in 2013.

Babayev will be hoping to add to the tally before competing at the European Under-23 Championships in Poland and the World University Games in Taiwan later this summer.

He is also playing his part in ensuring the sporting legacy of Baku 2017. In February, he was one of 14 Azerbaijani athletes chosen to act as ambassadors for the Solidarity Games.

"Our role is to promote sport in Azerbaijan," he said.

"We want to engage young people and encourage them to do sport. I think that all together, we ambassadors can increase involvement in sport in Azerbaijan."

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