Tunceli women’s rafting team to represent Turkey at World Championship in Italy
TUNCELİ – Kardelen Koldaş
A team of three women rafters from the eastern province of Tunceli will represent Turkey at the U23 World Rafting Championship during July 21-24 in Italy, featuring athletes ranging in age from 15 to 23.
Deniz Dinler (18), Tijda Yeşil (20), and Gözde Aksoy (18) are all members of the Pertek Municipality Rafting Sports Club based in Tunceli, which was founded in February in a means to promote Tunceli as well as rafting tourism in the province.
The women shined in the sports arena and have been selected to the Turkish national team following the club’s successes in races at the Dalaman River in southwestern Turkey and Munzur River in Tunceli.
The club’s three women Dinler, Yeşil, and Aksoy all started doing sports at a young age and attended different sports throughout their lives. Dinler told daily Hürriyet that she started her sports life with athletics and then continued with handball and rafting.
From Ovacık, a district in Tunceli surrounded by the bold, grey peaks of the Munzur Mountains, Dinler said village life made her physically “strong.” “As I live in a village, I do not have physical problems, i.e. I am strongly built. We just had a technical deficiency with regard to rafting, and thanks to our trainer, we have learned that,” Dinler said.
The 18-year-old is quite excited she will represent Turkey in Italy and does not want to come empty-handed to the country. Dinler desires to study physical training and sports in a university and afterwards open a rafting facility in her hometown Ovacık.
Yeşil, another rafter, started her sports life at the age of three with taekwondo. She later did handball and finally rafting, which makes her flow with adrenaline and excitement, the 20-year-old told daily Hürriyet. Similar to Dinler, Yeşil’s aim is to return to Turkey with the championship cup.
Similarly, Aksoy became interested in many sports throughout her life, such as skiing, volleyball, and handball. It was thanks to her teachers at high school that she became interested in rafting, which the 18-year-old describes as being “a different ball of wax” from other sports.
“[The founder of modern Turkey] Mustafa Kemal Atatürk had said, ‘I like athletic people who are smart, agile, and also well-behaved.’ We are trying to be worthy of him,” Aksoy said, adding that they aim to make it to the rankings in the World Championship in Italy.
The rafting team initially started to train at Munzur River during the cold winter months, without even having proper equipment. But later on, Tunceli provincial directorate of youth and sports loaned a professional rafting boat to the club, which it is currently utilizing for training as well as for joining races. As for the paddles, the Pertek Municipality Rafting Sports Club is joining the races using other teams’ paddles, the club manager said.
“We have always raced borrowing paddles of other teams as our own paddles are made out of PVC and weigh approximately 1.150 kilograms, whereas our competitors’ paddles are made fully out of carbon and weigh 250 grams,” Serhat Yıldız said. The club manager added that during the race in Dalaman River, the team had borrowed from the Kazakh team, whereas in the Munzur River, they had borrowed from the team representing the Black Sea province of Rize.