With the start of the inaugural European Games firmly under a cloud amid Azerbaijan's human rights record, the oil and gas money which funded the multi-billion staging of the event and the country's aversion to a free press, it is easy to forget that for 6,000 athletes the 16-day event represents a key stepping stone towards the Rio Olympics.

Though many of the 16 Olympic sports included in event will not include their stellar names as the likes of athletics and swimming were unable to dovetail their own European Championships with the Games, some athletes will have identified Baku as a decent yardstick for their form ahead of the main event in 14 months.

Team GB will be sending 153 athletes to compete and though there is no Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Sir Bradley Wiggins or Tom Daley; a stellar group of names looking to repeat their success from London 2012 next year or emerge as medal contenders travel in search of success, and further experience at a multi-sport event. IBTimes UK profiles the ones to watch.

Nicola Adams

The Yorkshire flyweight crashed out at the quarter-final stage last year but she will be looking to go two steps further and add to her impressive collection with gold this time around. The Olympic and Commonwealth champion could come face-to-face with foe from Bucharest and reigning champion Stoyka Petrova but she remains the favourite.

Jade Jones

Riding on a crest of a wave going into May's World Championships, it took a technical fault to halt Jones' taekwondo dominance. Having won six tournaments in a row, a computer problem saw the Welsh-born Olympic champion denied crucial points in her quarter-final and crash out of the event in Russia. All being well, her luck is about to change.

Nile Wilson

With the stellar names from Briton's gymnastics team absence in Baku, it is time for Wilson to become a man in his second senior championships appearance in as many years. A double Commonwealth champion from Glasgow, the 19-year-old hopes to add his first major title for Team GB. The Leeds-born athlete goes in his favoured event, the high bar, on the opening weekend.

Amber Hill

Things didn't go to plan for the junior world record holder at last year's Commonwealth Games, but this sharp shooter is better for the experience and a leading contender to medal. Though just outside the European top-10 Hill won team gold at the World Championships alongside fellow competitor Elena Allen.

Ed McKeever

Day four in Azerbaijan could be a golden one for Team GB in the kayak sprint. The tag of the 'Usain Bolt of the water' might be an unwanted one, but there is no denying the accuracy of the claim. McKeever added world and European medals to his Olympic title from London last year and though qualification for Rio does not begin in earnest until September's World Championships, the Somerset-born flyer will be keen to enhance his reputation.