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Azerbaijan are tops, Uganda 33rd as Islamic Solidarity Games end

Uganda’s only medalist at the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games was Halimah Nakaayi (L). Other medalists in the 800m event she competed in were Morocco’s Malika Akkaoui (C) and Benin’s Noelie Yarigo (R) . AFP PHOTO

Baku, Azerbaijan | AFP-Services (text stories) |  The fourth Islamic Solidarity Games ended in Baku on Monday with hosts Azerbaijan topping the medals table after a relentess 11-day long battle with neighbours Turkey.

Oddly enough, the Azeri team came up empty handed in terms of gold medals on the final day of action, the only time that had happened during the Games.

But on the back of a superb Sunday which culminated in football gold, Azerbaijan were all but assured of top spot with a 75-68 lead and just 11 golds to be disputed on Monday.

Uganda came 33rd overall out of 50 nations, with Nakaayi’s silver in the athletics 800m the country’s second medal ever at an Islamic Solidarity Games. (see full standings page 2)

The country’s only other medal came at the inaugural Islamic Games in 2005.

Uganda was represented at the games by an athletics, swimming, tennis , weightlifting team and the sport of Zurkhaneh.  Zurkhaneh ritual is a traditional heroic sport that has its roots in Iran. It combines martial arts, calisthenics, strength training and music.

Turkey challenge

Turkey edged closer to the top by bagging both tennis singles titles and adding one from the wushu martial arts, but that still left them four golds adrift at 75-71.

The Turks had the consolation of ending up with the highest overall – gold, silver and bronze – medal haul with 195 to 162.

Iran had a strong finish to the Games, lifting eight of the last 11 golds, six of those coming in wushu and they consolidated third place in the medals list with 39 golds and 98 in total.

They were simply unstoppable in the wushu sanda events, underlining their supremacy by winning all of their bouts and storming to six of seven gold medals available.

Azerbaijan had to settle for three silvers at the Baku Sports Hall after losing all of their finals to the implacable Iranians.

The only gold to escape the Iranian stranglehold came in the 48kg division, in which there was no Iranian fighter. Turkey’s Mehmet Demirci took advantage to dominate Kyrgyzstan’s Turatbek Sulaimankul in the final.

Iran also won both gold medals in the table tennis, the final gold medals of the games to be decided.

The men’s outfit of Alamian brothers Noshad and Nima, as well as Afshin Noroozi, got the better of Turkey 3-1, after the women’s trio had claimed a gripping 3-1 victory over hosts Azerbaijan in the first final.

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