Guliyev to spearhead Fenerbahce’s title challenge in Castelló

Ramil Guliyev
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Turkey's world and European 200m champion Ramil Guliyev will contest the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the ECCC Track & Field Group A in Castellon on 25-26 May

A mere 4.5 points divided Enka and Sport Lisboa e Benfica at the European Champions Clubs Cup Group A in Birmingham a year ago and this weekend, Fenerbahce Sport Club will look to maintain the success of their fellow Turkish team.

Both days of the ECCC Track & Field Group A will be streamed live here and there will be live results from here.

Castelló in Spain plays host to the two-day competition this weekend and if this is about the importance of team points, Fenerbahce has Turkey’s greatest ever individual athlete on their side.

World 200m champion in 2017 and European 200m champion in 2018, Ramil Guliyev is competing in three events. He will run in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in a year in which he will head to Doha looking to retain his world crown. 

Last year Enka’s Emre Zafer Barnes took the 100m honours in Birmingham when he won in 10.39 and although Guliyev might renowned globally for his exploits around the curve, Guliyev has a 100m personal best of 9.97 and will be difficult to peg back. 

The 200m should be closer as he comes up against fellow European finalist and last year’s winner Leon Reid from Ireland as Birchfield Harriers once more carry the flag for Great Britain.

But Guliyev is already in blistering form in 2019, having broken 20 seconds with one of the standout performances at the first IAAF Diamond League meeting of the season in Doha, winning in the European-leading time of 19.99.

This weekend’s competition is between eight teams. Along with Castellon, Fenerbahce, Benfica and Birchfield Harriers, there is VSK Univerzita Brno (Czech Republic), Sparta AM (Denmark), Cosma (Lithuania) and the Netherlands’ Rotterdam Atletiek.

While Fenerbahce will expect big things from Guliyev, it will be the same for Benfica from an athlete who has already won a major title this year. 

Fresh from his brilliant run to win the 1500m at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships, Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski will compete in the 800m. It will be tough for him as Fenerbahce will field Kenyan Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich - the fastest man in the field with a 1:42.85 PB. 

Back in 2016, Aras Kaya won 3000m steeplechase silver at the European Championships and Fenerbahce will see him as another clear favourite to triumph. 

Playas de Castellon lifted the trophy in 2015, they were runners up in 2016 and third again last year, so the hosts will be out to make an impression in front of their own supporters. 

The 3000m will see Castellon’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo as the fastest in the field with a 7:41.04 PB and then in the 5000m, he will face Kaya in what could become a fascinating head-to-head. Ndikumwenayo has run 13:25.55 while Kaya has a best of 13:23.91. 

Ndikumwenayo’s principal rival in the 3000m will be wearing the colours of Sport Lisboa e Benfica as world U20 5000m champion Edward Pingua Zakayo will look to deliver maximum points for the second time this year. He won the U20 race for Sport Lisboa at the ECCC Cross Country in February. 

Sport Lisboa e Benfica will also have chances aplenty on the in-field as well and none more so than in the triple jump with Pedro Pablo Pichardo - one of a select group of athletes to surpass 18m metres in the event - in action. 

Tsanko Arnaudov (shot put), Francisco Belo (discus) and Diogo Ferreira (pole vault) are also expected to contribute a full complement of points to the Sport Lisboa tally in their respective events.