Guliyev gets ready to chase Mennea's long-standing European 200m record

Ramil Guliyev at the IAAF World Championships London 2017
European Athletics

Ramil Guliyev, short-listed for this year’s European Athlete of the Year after his momentous season and 200m triumph at the London 2017 IAAF World Championships, now has the European 200m record and gold at Berlin 2018 as his main targets for next year.

“Breaking the 200m record, and hopefully at the European Athletics Championships next year, is my biggest goal now. It’s the cumulation of 10 years hard work,” the 27-year-old Turkish sprinter told local reporters at his winter training base in Serik, a small town in the south of Turkey.

He is looking to improve on his European Athletics Championships 200m silver medal from Amsterdam 2016 in the German capital and after his victory in London, as well as his European-leading time of 20.02 at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels, he is the long-distance favourite for gold in the long sprint next summer.

Ramil Guliyev at the IAAF World Championships London 2017
European Athletics
Ramil Guliyev at the IAAF World Championships London 2017

However, getting the European record may be a taller order for him, although far from off the radar.

Guliyev is more than aware that the European 200m record has withstood all advances for almost four decades. The late Italian sprint legend Pietro Mennea ran 19.72 at altitude in Mexico City back in 1979.

France’s Christophe Lemaitre has gone the closest to consigning Mennea’s mark to history when he ran 19.80 when finishing third at the 2011 world championships while the Netherlands’ Churandy Martina flew to a time of 19.81 at last year’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne.

Guliyev himself, a former European U20 champion over the distance back in 2009, stands sixth on the European all-time list with his national record of 19.88 that he ran in Zagreb in 2015.

“And after the European record, then I want to get the world record and win medals at the (2020) Olympics,” he added.

Ramil Guliyev at the IAAF World Championships London 2017
European Athletics
Ramil Guliyev at the IAAF World Championships London 2017

The last time a European broke the 200m world record was when Mennea ran his fabulous time. Since then it has been improved four times, twice by USA’s Michael Johnson and twice by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt to the current standard of 19.19.

“Now that Bolt has gone, there is no obvious successor and there are maybe 15 of us at a similar standard. However, that can only make the races more exciting, he added, suggesting the increased competition at the top echelon of 200m sprinting will push his to a new level.

Guliyev will also be a medal threat over 100m in Berlin. He became the 16th European to go under the 10-second barrier this year when he ran 9.97 on home soil while representing his club Fenerbahce at the Turkish Clubs Championships in July.

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More information on the 2018 European Championships:  

- The Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships will be part of the first multi-sport European Championships along with co-hosts Glasgow.   

- It will be a must-watch, must-attend experience that elevates the status of European Champions, uniting existing European Championships to celebrate the highest honour in European sport and celebrating the defining moments that create Champions.  

- It is the continent’s ultimate multi-sport event, an 11-day celebration of European sport staged every four years.  

- Seven of Europe’s leading sports (athletics, aquatics, rowing, golf, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon) will be brought together for the first edition. 

- The European Athletics Championships in Berlin will be staged 7-12 August. The six other sports will be staged in Glasgow through 2-12 August. 

- 4500 athletes and 52 nations will compete across the seven sports.  

- Potential TV audience of over one billion with millions more across multiple digital platforms.  

- Over half a million spectators expected.