Turkey hails historic gold from Azeri-born sprinter Guliyev

Istanbul (AFP) –


Turkish leaders and media on Friday hailed Azerbaijan-born Ramil Guliyev's historic gold medal in the world athletics championships 200-metres.

Guliyev saw off more fancied opposition, including 400m world champion Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa, for a sensational and surprise victory on Thursday night in London, Turkey's first ever gold at the championships.

"I congratulate Ramil Guliyev, who has made us all proud by winning the 200m gold medal," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote on Twitter.

He also sent the athlete a congratulatory telegram, the presidency added.

The Hurriyet daily said that Guliyev had "won a gold that will go down in history" while the pro-government Yeni Safak said "Ramil has written history".

Guliyev, 27, was born in Baku but took up Turkish citizenship in 2011 and was cleared to compete for his adopted country two years later.

The authorities in Azerbaijan were unhappy at his switch -- even to a nation with such close political and cultural ties -- but Guliyev insisted Turkey gave him an opportunity to train seriously.

After his victory was confirmed, Guliyev wrapped himself in Azerbaijan's national flag before also waving a Turkish flag above his head.

Turkey's other medal in the championships also came from an athlete born outside the country after Cuban defector Yasmani Copello won silver in the 400m hurdles.

The Turkish team in London includes other athletes born outside the country who switched allegiance.

Sprinters Emre Zafer (born Winston) Barnes and Jak Ali (Jacques) Harvey -- both born in Jamaica -- reached the semi finals of the 100 metres while Kenyan-born Yasemin Can (Vivian Jemutai) finished 11th in the women's 10,000 metres.