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Curtain comes down on 17 glorious days of sport

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The 50 best images of Baku 2015

The best photos from the European Games
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 15: Russia compete in the Synchronised Swimming Teams final during day three of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Aquatics Centre on June 15, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 17: Team Russian Federation compete in the Gymnastics Rhythmic Group All-Round Final during day five of the Baku 2015 European Games at the National Gymnastics Arena on June 17, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: Athletes exit the water in the Men's Triathlon Final during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at Bilgah Beach on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 24: Yana Alborova of Russia (L) and Valentina Cipriani of Italy compete in the Women's Fencing Individual Foil Semi Final during day twelve of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Crystal Hall on June 24, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 23: Stanimira Petrova of Bulgaria (red) and Anna Alimardanova of Azerbaijan (blue) compete in the Women's Boxing Bantamweight (51-54kg) Quarter Final during day eleven of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Crystal Hall on June 23, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: Dorina Boczogo #442 of Hungary competes in the vault apparatus of gymnastics team final and individual qualification during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at National Gymnastics Arena on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 19: Leonardo Basile of Italy competes in the Men's Taekwondo +80kg Quarter Final against Ivan Konrad Trajkovic of Slovakiaduring day seven of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Crystal Hall on June 19, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 25: Maria Aranzazu Goez Novo of Spain celebrates with her team-mate Rita Esther Montenegro Santana (#5) after Spain won the Women's 3 x 3 Basketball Quarterfinal between Spain and Azerbaijan during day thirteen of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Basketball Arena on June 25, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 15: General view of the stadium at sunset during the Womens' Water Polo Group A match between the Netherlands an Hungary on day three of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Water Polo Arena on June 15, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Katarina Belova of Slovakia (SVK), Stefanie Huber of Austria (AUT) and Danna Levin of Israel (ISR) clear the water jump during the Women's 3000 metres steeplechase during day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 16: Italy compete in the Synchronised Swimming Teams Free Routine final during day four of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Baku Aquatics Centre on June 16, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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An emotional Teymur Mammadov takes in his achievement after winning Azerbaijan's first gold medal of the European Games. Getty Images
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 23: Javier Romero Barrios of Spain (front) starts alongside fellow competitors during the Men's 100m Backstroke during day eleven of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Baku Aquatics Centre on June 23, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Conor Dunne of Ireland (83) and fellow riders race past the Flame Towers during the Men's Cycling Road Race on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at Freedom Square on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 16: Christian Weiss of Germany competes in the Men's Individual Ranking Round during day four of the Baku 2015 European Games at Tofiq Bahramov Stadium on June 16, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 24: Michal Rogalski of Poland competes against Reinis Krauklis of Latvia in the Badminton Men's Singles Group F match during day twelve of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Baku Sports Hall on June 24, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 24: Llorenc Gomez of Spain (10) scores past goalkeeper Stefano Spada of Italy (1) in the penalty shoot out during the Men's Beach Soccer Group B match between Spain and Italy on day twelve of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Beach Arena on June 24, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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Mariya Stadnyk of Azerbaiajan. Getty Images
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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Oleg Stepko of Azerbaijan. Getty Images
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 18: Elin Johansson of Sweden celebrates winning bronze against Tetiana Tetervianykova of Ukraine during the Women's Taekwondo -67kg bronze medal match on day six of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Crystal Hall on June 18, 2015 in Ba ku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: The athletes dismount from their bike in the Men's Triathlon Final during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at Bilgah Beach on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 19: Sebastien Martiny and Allan Morante of France compete in the Men's Gymnastics Synchronised Trampoline Qualification during day seven of the Baku 2015 European Games at the National Gymnastics Arena on June 19, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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Synchronised Swimmers take to the pool at Baku Aquatics Centre. Getty Images
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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The 50 best images from Baku 2015
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A review of the Baku 2015 European Games

After 17 days of thrilling competition, the first edition of the European Games came to an end on Sunday 28 June. Across 20 sports in 18 venues, new heroes were born and older stars burned brightly. History was made and a marker was set as Baku welcomed the world in its own inimitable style.

The city and its thousands of visitors witnessed a festival of top-level sport, as some of the world’s leading athletes rubbed shoulders with stars of tomorrow. From the sands of the Beach Arena, to the Wrestling mats of Heydar Aliyev Arena, medals were won, records set and friendships made.

When the dust settled, it was the Russians on top of the pile. And by some margin. The country finished with a stunning 164 medals, 79 of them gold. Hosts Azerbaijan also rose to the occasion, winning an impressive 56 medals, 21 of them gold, to finish second in the medal table. Great Britain were third, with 47 medals, 18 of them gold, with Diving providing the team with a particularly good return.

Nowhere was Russian dominance more pronounced than in the swimming pool, where its starlets won 23 of the 42 gold medals up for grabs and set five junior world records in the process. Stand-out performers were Arina Openysheva, who won seven golds, and Daniil Pakhomov, who won four golds and twice broke the junior world record in 100m butterfly.

In Synchronised Swimming too, the Russians swept all before them, while in Artistic Gymnastics, they won the men’s and women’s teams events, and Yana Kudryavtseva left all her Rhythmic Gymnastics rivals trailing in her gold dust.

Swiss gymnast Giulia Steingruber, the only double apparatus winner, stopped the Russians having it all their way in Artistic Gymnatics, and her nation had laid down an early marker in the Games, winning six of the first nine medals, with stunning success in Mountain Bike and Triathlon on the first full day of competition.

While youngsters ruled the pool, other sports produced heroic stories from athletes at the other end of the age spectrum. In Fencing, 43-year-old Ivan Trevejo won two golds for France after nearly a decade out of the sport, while in Table Tennis, 42-year-old Li Jiao won the women’s singles title for the Netherlands, as well as team silver.

Azerbaijan’s success came in traditional areas, such as Wrestling, Karate and Boxing, but its athletes also medalled in sports less associated with the host nation, including Triathlon, Canoe Sprint and Fencing. If the atmosphere at the Wrestling was the most passionate, local fans also took their women’s Volleyball team to heart, and a brave run to the semi-finals had Baku's Crystal Hall rocking.

As if winning the first ever European Games wasn't enough, athletes had extra incentive in the shape of qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. While a host of sports offered ranking points and the chance to achieve qualification standards, Triathlon, Table Tennis and Shooting offered direct qualification.

Down at the Beach Arena, it was easy to imagine you were already in Rio, as Beach Volleyball and Beach Soccer brought some razzmatazz to proceedings. The former provided unexpected champions, while the latter thrilled with a seemingly never-ending supply of wonder goals. The adjacent 3x3 Basketball competition was a fitting neighbour, its high-octane skills and street spirit bringing the buzz of youth to the Games.

Elsewhere, the two biggest names in women’s Boxing – Katie Taylor and Nicola Adams – confirmed their status in style, the team Athletics competition ended in high drama and the Cycling road races boasted thrilling sprint finishes at the end of gruelling courses that showcased the best of Baku, ancient and modern.

The Games were also a chance for a number of non-Olympic sports to strut their stuff. Karate, Sambo, Acrobatic and Aerobic Gymnastics, Beach Soccer and 3x3 Basketball all put on spectacular shows and furthered their cases for Olympic inclusion.

Sambo, a combat sport that was developed by the Soviet Army in the 1920s, provided one of the defining images of the Games. As defeated fighter Amil Gasimov lay in crumpled heap, in agony and unable to get up, his opponent Stsiapan Papou put his gold medal celebrations on hold. The Belarusian helped up the Azerbaijani world champion and carried him off the mat, reminding everyone watching that in sport, and in life, winning isn't everything.


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    Dazzling show closes Baku 2015

    Closing Ceremony captures Azerbaijan’s rich cultural tapestry and points to a bold future
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    Curtain comes down on 17 glorious days of sport

    A review of the Baku 2015 European Games
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    Germany and Turkey trounce Volleyball rivals

    A review of Volleyball at the Baku 2015 European Games
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    Big names avoid pile-ups to win BMX gold

    A review of BMX Cycling at the Baku 2015 European Games
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    Italy thrill, but Russia emerge golden

    A review of Beach Soccer at the Baku 2015 European Games
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    France tops medal table after fightback

    A review of Judo at the Baku 2015 European Games
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    Daudet dominates final to secure men's BMX title

    Frenchman takes gold, Dutchman Van Gendt gets silver and Swiss Graf grabs bronze
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