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Slovakia give competition the run-around

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The best Athletics images of Baku 2015

Athletics | Best of Baku 2015
Iveta Putalova of Slovakia takes the baton on the last leg from Alexandra Bezekova in the Women's 4x400 metres relay. Paul Gilham/Getty Images
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Roman Prodius (L) of Moldova and Jorgo Mino of Albania lead the field during the Men's 5000 metres on 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 21: Elisabeth Eberl of Austria competes during the Women's Javelin on day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: An athlete competes in the Women's 4x400 metres relay during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: Etamar Bhastekar of Israel competes in the Men's Pole Vault during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: Julia Siart of Austria attempts competes during the Women's Hammer Throw on day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: Olga Lenskay of Israel celebrates as she wins the Women's 200 metres heat two during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: (L-R) Julia Schwarzinger, Carina Schrempf, Susanne Walli and Verena Menapace of Austria celebrate as they finish second in the Women's 4x400 metres relay heat two during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: Rebecca Camilleri of Malta competes in the Women's Long Jump during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: Julijana Veljanoska of Macedonia competes in the Women's Shot Put during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: Nicolai Gorbusco of Moldova reacts as he crosses the line to win the Men's 3000 metres steeplechase during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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The Slovakian team pose on the medal podium after winning the Team Athletics Championship at the Olympic Stadium. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: Mladena Petrusic of Bosnia and Herzegovina competes in the Women's High Jump during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Athletes 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 22: Levi Itamar of Israel competes during the Men's Discus on day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: (L-R) Lukas Privalinec, Jozef Repcik, Martin Kucera and Denis Danac of Slovakia celebrate as they win the Men's 4x400 metres relay heat two during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: A general view ahead of the medal ceremony for the athletics team medals during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: Dominik Siedlaczek of Austria leads the field during the Men's 110m Hurdles heat 2 on day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: Jan Zmoray of Slovakia competes during the Men's Pole Vault on day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 22: Laurence Jones of Luxembourg competes in the Women's Long Jump during day ten of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 21: Hayle Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan celebrates winning the Men's 5000 metres during day nine of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 21, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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A review of Athletics at the Baku 2015 European Games

Slovakia took Athletics gold at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, beating Austria in dramatic fashion to secure immediate promotion back to League Two of the European Athletics Team Championships.

A dropped baton in the final event of the two-day contest cost Austria victory as Slovakia's 4x400m relay men stormed home in first place to take their final total to 458.5, just half a point ahead of Austria.

Israel finished third overall to win the bronze medal with 439 points.

Azerbaijan were denied the coveted fourth promotion place to the Second League despite crowd-pleasing wins from Hayle Ibrahimov in the 3000m - his third in two days. It was greeted with raucous cheers and trackside flames, before local triple jump hero Nazim Babayev then also came up trumps with a last round leap of 16.38m to beat his Moldovan rival Vladimir Letnicov by just 4cm.

"When I heard that Ibrahimov was first in the 3000m, it inspired me to win and to feel the victory voices at stands," said Babayev afterwards. "My dad said that he trusts me and supports me all the time, and said, you have to win because you are doing it for Azerbaijan."

Unfortunately for the home crowd, it wasn't enough, as Moldova finished fourth on 401, a comfortable 14 points ahead of the hosts.

Austria had held an 11-point lead over Slovakia going into the final day, but that was reduced to 6.5 with only the final 4x400m relays to come, while Azerbaijan were 12 behind Moldova with it all to play for in the battle for fourth.

Slovakia's women did all that could have been asked of them by winning the first race in a national record of 3 minutes, 35.03 seconds. But Austria chased them home in second to maintain a 5.5-point lead with the men's race to come.

Austria's men merely had to stay within six places of their Balkan rivals in the final event and were comfortably within reach when their second runner Gunther Matzinger dropped the baton while trying to overtake at the top of the home straight.

By the time he had picked it up, Austria were five places adrift of Slovakia who overhauled leaders Israel to take the maximum 14 points. Austria appeared to have done enough by finishing sixth but their time was slower than the Georgian team's from the first heat, and thus worth only eight points.

"We are Slovakia, we were fighting to the end in every discipline," said runner Jozef Repcik.

Indeed they were, as the battle for gold between the two principal contenders raged throughout the day. The gap was briefly reduced to three points, and never stretched to more than 13, but Austria kept their noses in front thanks, partly, to their two big-name athletes who both produced the goods when needed.

London Olympic finalist Beate Schrott ran a season's best of 13.18 to win the 100m hurdles while the experienced Gerhard Mayer out-threw the opposition to take 14 points in the men's discus.

A late victory for Anita Baierl in the women's 5000m gave them the advantage before the relays despite a late victory for Patrik Zenuch in the men's javelin to keep Slovakia in touch.

In the end, being in touch was just enough.

 

 


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    Slovakia give competition the run-around

    A review of Athletics at the Baku 2015 European Games
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    Baton-drop hands Slovakia Athletics gold

    Slovakia win thrilling team contest by just 0.5 points ahead of Austria
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    Ibrahimov steals the show as Austria lead Athletics

    Azerbaijan runner woos crowd with wins in 1500m and 5000m – just 75 minutes apart
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    Austria, Slovakia and Israel tipped for Athletics medals

    Azerbaijan are dark horses in battle for promotion in track and field competition
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    Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco and Gibraltar form single Athletics team
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    National honours at stake as Athletics adopts team format

    Team medals and European Athletics Team Championships promotion on the line
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    Getting to know… Athletics

    The two-day Athletics competition at Baku 2015 will be a team competition
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