10 Turkish athletes to watch at 2016 Rio Olympics
ISTANBULSome 103 Turkish athletes in 21 different sports will compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro between Aug. 5 and 21.
Turkey could pick up medals in sports like wrestling and taekwondo, while other athletes will be competing in other branches for the country for the first time.
Below are 10 Turkish athletes to look out for at the Rio Games.
1-İREM KARAMETE – FENCING:
Karamete is set to become Turkey’s second Olympian in fencing, following in the footsteps of Halet Çambel, who participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
Karamete comes from a fencing background, with both her mother and sister playing the sport, while her father is an old fencing coach.
The athlete started fencing at the age of 10.
2- FİKRET ARICAN – GYMNASTICS:
Arıcan is the first man in Turkish history to represent the country in gymnastics at the Olympics. The 23-year-old said he practiced at least six hours a day to achieve his Olympic target, while noting that Turkey was not a country at the Olympic level in terms of gymnastics.
Arıcan will not be alone in the gymnastic competition for Turkey, as 17-year-old Tutya Yılmaz, a student Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ), will also represent Turkey on the women’s side.
3-İLKE ÖZYÜKSEL – MODERN PENTATHLON:
Modern Pentathlon has been an Olympic sport since 1912, but 2016 will mark the first time Turkey has entered an athlete in the competition. Özyüksel will be supported by her visually impaired mother and retired father.
4- VİKTORİA ZEYNEP GÜNEŞ – SWIMMING:
Güneş, whose birth name is Viktoria Solntsev, was born in 1998 in Ukraine, but chose to come to Turkey in 2014 due to the instability in the country. Following her success in the 2013 World Junior Championships, Güneş could win one of Turkey’s medals at the Games. She will set a Turkish record if she makes the final, as no Turkish competitor has ever advanced beyond the semifinal, with Can Ergenekan reaching that stage in Barcelona in 1992 in the 200m butterfly.
Peri Suzan Özkum was the first Turkish woman to compete in the swimming event at the Montreal Games in 1976. Derya Büyükuncu, meanwhile, participated in six Olympic Games.
5- SERVET TAZEGÜL – TAEKWONDO:
Tazegül, a double Olympic medalist who was born in Nuremburg, is again a hot medal favorite for Turkey. Tazegül captured the bronze medal in Beijing in 2008, before going better in 2012 by beating Iran’s Mohammad Bagheri Motamed to win gold at the London 2012 Games.
6-RIZA KAYAALP – WRESTLING:
Kayaalp won Turkey’s first medal at the 2012 Olympics – a bronze against Georgia’s Guram Pherselidze. Kayaalp continues to be one of the most popular Turkish competitors in the sport, which possesses a pride of place in the national sporting mythology.
7- TAHA AKGÜL – WRESTLING:
A three-time European champions, Akgül hopes to exit the sport with a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics after finishing eighth in 2012 in London.
Akgül’s subsequent aim is to switch to oil wrestling and become the “eternal owner” of the golden belt by winning Turkey’s famous Kırkpınar oil wrestling tournament in Edirne.
8- ÇAĞLA BÜYÜKAKÇAY – TENNIS:
Büyükakçay is one of the best tennis players produced by Turkey in recent years and she was the first Turk to win a WTA tour event when she captured the Istanbul Cup earlier in 2016. Büyükakçay will be Turkey’s first Olympian in tennis.
9-POLAT KEMBOİ ARIKAN – ATHLETICS
Born Paul Kipkosgei, Arıkan took Turkish citizenship in 2011, winning the gold medal at the European Championships in the 10,000m race.
10- NUR TATAR – TAEKWONDO:
A silver medalist in the 67kg competition at the London 2012 Games, Tatar is hoping to go one better at the Rio Games and hopefully join Servet Tazegül on the podium.