By Nick Butler

Nazim Babayev won a gold medal for Azerbaijan with a Championship Record breaking leap in the triple jump ©Baku 2015A packed programme of test events ahead of the inaugural European Games in Baku has begun well with the successful staging of the European Youth Olympic Trials in the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium.

The competition attracted 678 of the continent's finest young athletes, aged 16 and 17, competing across 36 different events, with the event serving as a qualifier for the Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, due to take place from August 16 to 28. 

Not only did it mark the first test event in any sport with just over a year-to-go until the Games begin, but it was also the first-ever international athletics meeting held in Azerbaijan. 

Russia led the way with 16 medals, including eight eight gold, and 175 points, with Italy second in the points table with 107 points, narrowly ahead of Poland with 102.

The individual star was was Bence Halasz of Hungary who managed a world youth best of 87.16 metres to win the boys' hammer.

But, from a home perspective, the clear highlight was an emphatic victory for triple jumper Nazim Babayev, who leapt 16.14m, while the smooth organisation and running of the event will also have provided much satisfaction.

"European Athletics is very happy and impressed by the exceptionally high level of organisation displayed by our Azerbaijani friends," said Jose Luis de Carlos, senior vice-president of European Athletics, following the meeting.

"The Azerbaijan Athletics Federation (AAF) were given a very short period of time to organise this event but they have done an excellent job.

"We are now looking forward to working with them on a successful European Athletics Team Championships 3rd League as part of the European Games."

There was a high standard of competition in events during the European Youth Olympic Trials in Baku, including the women's high jump ©Baku 2015There was a high standard of competition in events during the European Youth Olympic Trials in Baku, including the women's high jump ©Baku 2015

As well as organising an athletics competition, the event also provided Baku 2015 with the chance to test a number of games time functions including transport operations, security, and village and food services.

This included a total of 931 athletes and team officials staying in the newly-built Athletes' Village throughout the competition, enabling it to be tested in an operational capacity for the first time.

From last Wednesday (May 28) until the end of today, a total of 12,800 meals were served to athletes and team officials, with 469 bus trips made transporting people between the Village and the Stadium.

"I am delighted by the praise received from Mr de Carlos and would like to thank European Athletics for providing the AAF and the Operation Committee with the opportunity to host this competition," said Simon Clegg, chief operating officer of Baku 2015. 

"Working alongside the AAF we jointly delivered an exceptional event for all the athletes and coaches to enjoy.

"The success of our first test event as we near the One-Year-To-Go date is an important milestone in delivering a European Games of which the whole continent will be proud.

"In particular I wish to recognise the wonderful contribution of all 166 Azerbaijani national technical officials who delivered such an excellent event after only four months of intense training."

Chief operating officer Simon Clegg hailed the test event as a key marker on the road to Baku 2015 ©Baku 2015Chief operating officer Simon Clegg hailed the test event as a key marker on the road to Baku 2015 ©Baku 2015

Chingiz Huseynzade, President of the AAF, added: "Hosting the European Youth Olympic Trials here in Azerbaijan was an honour and I am proud of the effort displayed by everyone at the Local Organising Committee to ensure they were such a resounding success.

"We thoroughly enjoyed welcoming all of the athletes and team officials to Azerbaijan and I wish them all well in their future pursuit of Youth Olympics glory."

Last month athletics became the 19th sport to be officially added to the Baku 2015 programme when it was confirmed the 3rd League of the European Athletics Team Championships, set to include Azerbaijan, is scheduled to take place during the Games.

An exhibition street athletics event, which should feature some of the best athletes in Europe, will also be held, although this will be an exhibition event.