Baku 2015 European Games: Ibrahimov steals the show as Austria lead Athletics

Hayle Ibrahimov
Ethiopian-born athlete Hayle Ibrahimov following his victory in the 5,000m (photo: Mathias Hangst – Getty Images)

Austria sit on top of the table with 250 points after day one of Athletics at the first European Games, but it was a fleet-footed Azerbaijani who was the star of the evening at Baku’s Olympic Stadium.

Three victories from Sunday’s 21 events helped Austria to an 11-point lead over Slovakia, but it was Hayle Ibrahimov‘s runaway victories in the men’s 1500m and 5000m – just 75 minutes apart – that got the crowd on their feet.

The Ethiopian-born runner even had time for half a lap of honour with the Azerbaijan flag after the 1500m before disappearing for a quick warm-down to get ready for the longer race.

He won that at a canter in 14 minutes, 2.17 seconds after taking the 1500m with an impressive finishing kick in 3:49.69.

“I wanted to put on a show and have a good run, to make it nice for Azerbaijan,” said Ibrahimov after flying the national flag round a full lap following his second victory.

“I feel the crowd are with me and (that meant) I did not feel tired. The support is very great.”

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Another Ethiopian-born athlete, the 19-year-old Chaltu Beji, was just as dominant in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, giving the 20,000 Azerbaijani fans more reason to cheer by jogging home 25 seconds ahead of her nearest rival.

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Note: Hayle was born in Mekele, Ethiopia and his birthname was Haile Desta Hagos.


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