Home hopes bidding for glory in Baku

5 May 2017

Azerbaijan will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia in topping the Islamic Soldarity Games medals table as the host nation, when they officially get underway on May 12. AFP-Services has taken a look at a few of their best contenders for gold in Baku.

The 28-year-old has been a constant source of medals for Azerbaijan since switching allegiance from Ukraine in 2007. Competing in the women's under-48kg category, Stadnik has won three Olympic medals, the 2009 world title, five European championship crowns, as well as European Games gold on home soil two years ago.

But she was devastated by a dramatic loss in the Olympic final in Rio de Janeiro last summer, as for the second Games in a row, she was denied gold in the dying seconds of the final.

After the defeat to Japan's Eri Tosaka, a tearful Stadnik pulled the medal off her neck shortly after she received it, before throwing it to the ground in disgust while leaving the arena.

The host nation will be expecting her to put that disappointment behind her, and add another medal to her impressive career tally.

The world's favourite sport has taken off in Azerbaijan, with club teams and the national side having improved dramatically in recent years.

The national team are currently fourth in Group C of European World Cup qualifying, three points off the playoff place, while both Qarabag and Gabala have featured in the Europa League group stages in recent years.

The tournament for the Solidarity Games will see eight countries competing in an under-23 tournament, although like in the Olympics, teams will be allowed to field three overage players.

The hosts have been drawn in Group A alongside Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Cameroon.

The reigning world and Olympic middleweight champion will be expected to challenge for top honours again.

The Russian-born fighter beat Nigerien Abdoul Issoufou 6-2 in the gold medal match in Rio, and will need to be at his best to win again at home, with Uzbekistan's Dmitry Shokin, the top seed from the Olympics, another possible rival.

Isayev also won European championship gold in 2014, and the European Games the following year.

Maybe the best chance of providing multiple gold medals for the home nation is rhythmic gymnast Durunda.

The 19-year-old moved to Azerbaijan from Cyprus in 2012, to help continue the country's excellent recent showings in the Russian-dominated sport.
Durunda has taken over from the retired Aliya Garayeva as the team's number one, and with four gold medals on offer from the individual apparatus finals, she could turn out to be the star of the Games.

Her biggest competition is likely to come from teammates Zhala Piriyeva and Zohra Agamirova, as well as Kazakhstan's Sabina Ashirbayeva, who narrowly missed out on joining Durunda in the all-around final at the Rio Olympics last year.

The 2012 Olympic under-84kg champion from London will be one of the favourites for gold in May.

Sharifov, 28, who also claimed the world title in 2011, missed out on defending his Olympic crown in Rio, when he had to settle for the bronze medal.

He has performed well at home before, having won the European championship silver in Baku in 2010.

Four stars who shone brightest in Baku
Azerbaijan are top as Solidarity Games end
Iran storm to six golds as Azeris clinch top spot
Vahabzade revels in Azerbaijan glory
Azerbaijan set for Solidarity Games glory
Madatov stars as Azerbaijan beat Oman in final
Clinical Iran power past hosts to defend title
Azerbaijan wrestlers finish in style
Azerbaijan storm to double gold
Iran and Azerbaijan share spoils on final day
Iran win Gold in team Zurkhaneh
Showdown time for Azerbaijan and Turkey
Aliyev leads Azeri charge
Can canters to 10,000-metre title
Azerbaijan and Turkey neck-and-neck as Iran tighten grip on third
Bahraini brilliance lands three more golds
Iran, Azerbaijan claim golds in Baku
Azerbaijan grab another two golds
Hurdler Machava wins first gold for Mozambique
Inchude wins Guinea-Bissau's first-ever medal
Azeri women down Turkey to strike gold
Three golds out of four for Azerbaijan
Mixed fortunes for Azerbaijan on final day
Azerbaijan off the mark, Syria and Kazakhstan get first golds
Hosts Azerbaijan beat Algeria to reach final
Hosts claim four titles on golden night
Six Azeris through to finals
Brilliant Khamis wins Bahrain's third athletics gold
Azerbaijan wrestlers impress on first day
Azerbaijan deliver golden double in Baku
Turkey became champion in water polo
Uzbekistan, Azberbaijan impress in first semis
Bahrain finishes with gold
Azerbaijan win mixed 10m air pistol gold
Olympic champion Jebet storms to steeplechase gold
Sharing of the spoils at Baku 2017
Shemberev shines for hosts as Turkey dominate
Uzbekistan boxers impress at Islamic Solidarity Games
Skydan grabs gold for hosts in hammer throw final
"Disappointed" Al-Attiyah promises to bounce back
Fantastic four for marksman Lunev
Iran's Sebghatollahi takes gold in women's air pistol
The first gold medal of Azerbaijan in para-athletics
Azeri men grab team title for 11th gold
Cameroon and Azerbaijan into semis
Azeris and Turks in command at Solidarity Games
Turkey, Azerbaijan complete golden blitzes
Azerbaijani athlete Anastasia Ibrahimli wins gold
Azerbaijan wins mixed trap gold
Golden girl Durunda pleased with return
Azerbaijani men’s judo team into final
Dikec adds another gold for Turkey
Judo: Azeris and Uzbeks dominate on day two
Turkey bounce back, Azerbaijan win first gold
Azerbaijan top karate at Solidarity Games
Azerbaijani women's handball team wins gold medal
Golds galore for hosts in epic night
Mollaei floors Gulderen to win judo gold for Iran
Home hope Abdullayev shines in welterweight prelims
Artistic gymnastics: Azerbaijan, Turkey split team golds
Azerbaijan, Turkey on top at Solidarity Games
Judo: Azeris in gold-medal judo bonanza
Durunda, Piriyeva lead Azerbaijan to victory
Agayev leads Azerbaijan charge in karate
Azerbaijani judo fighter Shikhalizade became champion
Double gold for Turkey in shooting
Azerbaijan off to golden start with double gold
Azerbaijani judo team wins first gold at Baku 2017
Gurer gets another gold for Turkey
Azerbaijan’s Aghayev qualifies for karate semi-final
Azerbaijan's first gold of Games for Lunev
Opening Ceremony starts with a bang
Azerbaijan send Saudis packing
Two years on, Baku goes it alone at Solidarity Games
Turkey and Azerbaijan on top in women's handball
Smiles all around for Azerbaijan and Turkey
Turkey and Azerbaijan win in women's tournament
Azeris boosted by Cameroon draw
Azerbaijan and Cameroon in entertaining stalemate
Azerbaijan ready to take on giants
Azerbaijan seek medals blitz at Games
Rhythmic gymnastics: Durunda back to lead hunt for glory
Solidarity Games coming over Baku horizon
Azerbaijan’s National Football talks about training
Meet Azerbaijan's 3x3 Basketball players
Gymnasts to represent Azerbaijan announced
U-23 football team schedule
Journey from the Caspian in Ganja
Team sport draw results announced
Always try to reach the top!
Video Interview with Ilham Zakiyev
Nazim Babayev: "No time to stop!"
Judo “Grand-Slam” competition held
Master classes with Athlete Ambassadors
Video Interview with Rafael Aghayev
Akif Aliyev: Relaxing weakens the athlete
Boris Kirillov - I'm ready!
Meet Oloxan Musayev, Paralympic athlete
Niyamaddin Pashayev: "We believe in our athletes"
Interview with Rustam Orujov
Video interview with Oleg Stepko
A day with tennis player Zuleykha Safarova
Interview with Marina Durunda
Athlete & Celebrity Ambassadors announced
Interview with Farid Mansurov
Interview with President of Wushu Sanda Federation
Interview with Vice President of Table Tennis Federation
Interview with Karate World Champion
Interview with Secretary General of Azerbaijan's Judo Federation
Interview with Secretary General of Weightlifting Federation
Interview with Head Coach of Azerbaijan’s Powerlifting Federation
The organizing committee for IV ISG in Baku 2017
Signed agreement about IV Islamic Solidarity Games
NOC of Azerbaijan Republic will be represented in ISSF
Official Partners
Official Supporters