Azerbaijan's Anna Skydan and her dream of an Olympic medal. GETTY IMAGES

Hammer thrower Hanna Skydan is one of Azerbaijan's best track and field options at Paris 2024, as is Cuban-born triple jumper Alexis Copello, a two-time European champion and eighth at London 2012 (still competing for Cube).

It's the fourth Olympic Games for 31-year-old Skydan, who was born in Ukraine and competed for that country until 2012. Now she is one of the best hammer throwers in the world, she has set her sights much higher than in her three previous Olympic appearances, where she failed to reach the final after finishing 19th in the qualifying round in London 2012, 13th in Rio 2016, missing the final by just 21 centimetres, and 16th in Tokyo. 

The 2016 European bronze medallist is in serious medal contention after finishing fourth at the 2022 European Championships in Munich, where she had the best qualification mark of 74.57 and only 70.88 in the final, missing out on bronze by 70 centimetres. Skydan repeated her fourth-place finish at last year's World Championships in Budapest with a very similar routine, scoring 77.10 and only 74.18 in the final to miss out on bronze by 123 centimetres. 

"At the World Championships in Budapest, I qualified for the Paris Olympics by breaking my Azerbaijani record and setting a personal best. That's why I think 2023 is very good for me. I am very happy that I will take part in the Olympic Games. I am looking forward to the competition. The expectations are high. Now I have to work harder," she told 

Anna Skydan and her coach Artyom Rubanko in Kiev. OLYMPIC.AZ
Anna Skydan and her coach Artyom Rubanko in Kiev. OLYMPIC.AZ

Hanna Skydan is preparing for the Olympics in Kiev. "I am continuing my training under the guidance of my coach Artyom Rubanko. I will stay here until the European Winter Cup in Portugal at the beginning of March. Thanks to the conditions created and the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Azerbaijan, I am grateful to the leadership of the athletics federation. I believe that better days are ahead of us". 

With Rubanko, they make a perfect athletic pair, as the hammer thrower told World Athletics years ago: "When Artem started training me, it was the first time I understood what professional sport was all about. I was very excited about the many new exercises he gave me as part of my new regime. It was very hard but also very interesting to have such a good variety as part of the training." 

Skydan also wishes that two more athletes from Azerbaijan will make it to Paris. "I hope that triple jumpers Nazim Babayev (European Indoor Champion in Glasgow 2019) and Yekaterina Sariyeva (the winner of last year's European Team Championships in Silesia, Poland) will also represent the country in such a prestigious competition as the Olympic Games.