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Patriot Games: Turkish Sprinter's Gold Occasions Pride, Controversy, in Azerbaijan

Ramil Guliyev, who was born in Azerbaijan but competes for Turkey, racing at the 2017 World Athletics Championships, where he won gold in the 200 meters. (photo: Erik van Leeuwen, Wikimedia Commons)

After winning the 200 meters spring at this month's World Athletics Championships, Ramil Guliyev took a victory lap holding two flags - Azerbaijani and Turkish.

Guliyev was born in Azerbaijan when it was still part of the Soviet Union, but in 2011 he applied for Turkish citizenship. Azerbaijani authorities protested the move, called him a traitor and demanded his compliance with international rules forcing him to wait three years before competing for Turkey.

Guliyev complied. And when he won on August 11 – bringing Turkey its first-ever gold medal in the country’s World Championship history – he was celebrated in Azerbaijan as well as in Turkey.

Following the race, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev wrote a letter to the victorious athlete. “I would like to note that for the first time, an Azerbaijani athlete becomes the world champion in athletics, he wrote.“It is gratifying that you raised the flags of Azerbaijan and Turkey. It shows that you are a patriot devoted to your people.”

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Patriot Games: Turkish Sprinter's Gold Occasions Pride, Controversy, in Azerbaijan

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