Hosts claim four titles on golden night

17 May 2017
Azerbaijan's Aykhan Taghizade celebrates his victory over Iran's Seyedhossein Ehsanipetroudi in the -68kg taekwondo finals
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev congratulates Azebaijan's Radik Isaev on the podium of the -87kg taekwondo finals
Azebaijan's President Ilham Aliyev applauds during a medal ceremony
Turkey's Nur Tatar (R) comforts her opponent Azerbaijan's Farida Azizova after winning the -67kg Taekwondo finals
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev congratulates gold medalist, Azeri Milad Beigi Harchegani on the podium of the -80kg catergory

Olympic and world champion Radik Isayev starred as Azerbaiajn claimed four gold medals on a thrilling evening of taekwondo at the Baku Sports Hall on Wednesday.

Women's under-49kg athlete Patimat Abakarova delighted a large home crowd by thrashing Ainur Yesbergenova 14-4.

The first men's final saw Aykhan Taghizade beat Iranian practitioner Seyedhossein Ehsanipetroudi in the under-68kg category 9-8, before Azeri Farida Azizova lost 8-2 in the women's under-67kg final to Turkey's Nur Tatar.

The home nation bounced back though when Milad Beigi saw off Turk Yunus Sari 9-5.

Isayev completed the quartet of golds by edging Uzbekistan's Dimitry Shokin on a golden point after drawing the +87kg final 8-8, and Nafia Kus won the last final in the women's +73kg for Turkey with a 7-4 win over Akram Khodabandeh.

Abakarova started the stronger and built up a seven-point first-round lead thanks to a flurry of kicks to her opponent's chest.

Having destroyed Soudabeh Poursadeghi Shalmaei 15-4 in the semi-finals, the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist was a hot favourite for the final and she didn't disappoint.

The 22-year-old from Dagestan, who also won European Games bronze in Baku two years ago, was far too good for Kazakhstan's Yesbergenova and finished off a resounding victory with two head kicks.

Taghizade, who was the inaugural European Games champion in Baku, edged a nervy first round in his clash with Ehsanipetroudi.

One spinning kick was enough to extend his advantage ahead of the final two minutes, and he subtly avoided his rival's advances to close out the win.

A total lockdown of the arena for 20 minutes indicated the imminent arrival of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to join in the celebrations.

The home fighters responded to Aliyev's presence, as Azizova and Beigi both reached their respective finals, the latter with a sensational 24-4 thumping of Alireza Darvishpour.

Azizova got off to a slow start in her encounter against Tatar, and she fell five points behind in the second round when the Turk landed a flying strike to the head.

Despite plenty of encouragement from the fans, the Azeri failed to land a single kick of significance as the 21-year-old Tatar held on.

Azerbaijan were desperate to avoid another costly final defeat in the battle with Turkey to top the overall medals table, but Beigi had to produce a spinning kick to the hogus to stay level at the end of the opening round against Sari.

Reigning European champion Beigi, who joined the Azerbaijan team from his native Iran two years ago, took a slender lead into the final round as the tension built in the stands.

After his ultra-aggressive semi-final display, Olympic bronze medallist Beigi showed his conservative side to hang on, before producing a late head kick to seal his team's third gold medal of the evening.

The 27-year-old Isayev edged a cagey opening against Shokin, having had a walkover in the last four when his opponent pulled out through injury.

Isayev, who was also European champion in 2014, was pegged back in the second, but found a spinning head shot to restore his lead.

Shokin stayed in contention though and forced a golden-point decider.

Isayev used all of his experience though and a kick to the chest did the job of adding Solidarity gold to his glittering collection.

Kus completed the action with a solid win over Iran's Kohadbandeh, but the day belonged without doubt to Azerbaijan.


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