Turkey scores gold, silver in women's 1500m
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Asli Cakir Alptekin led a shock 1-2 for Turkey when she won the women's Olympic 1500m on Friday in 4min 10.23sec, handing her country a first-ever gold medal in track and field.
European champion Alptekin, who served a two-year doping ban from 2004-2006, kicked for home and held her nerve for gold ahead of fast-finishing teammate Gamze Bulut.
Bulut, who also took European silver behind Alptekin in Helsinki and has improved her time in the event by almost 15sec this season, took silver in 4:10.40.
Bahrain's Ethiopian-born import Maryam Jamal claimed bronze a further 0.34sec adrift.
The Turkish medal haul doubled the two silvers Ethiopian-born Elvan Abeylegesse won in the women's 5000 and 10,000m in 2008.
Turkey's two other Olympic track and field medals were bronzes won by Esref Apak in the men's hammer in 2004 and Ruhi Sarialp in the men's triple jump in 1948.
"We came here to take the gold and silver medals for this competition," said Alptekin, who was caught doping after racing in the steeplechase in the world junior championships in 2004.
"We wanted two medals and we got them. It's like gaining two gold medals. Every athlete dreams of a medal in the Olympic Games. This is the Turkish power.
"I began athletics in the 1500m and when I came to junior level, the entry standard was so high that I tried steeplechase.
"Then my husband and coach said I am stronger in the 1500m so we made a choice to change." Bulut said she was happy to have clocked a personal best alongside her close friend Alptekin.
"I was not the favourite before this competition but I did run a 4:06 in qualification and 4:01 in the semi-final and now this is my personal best," she said.
"We take home two medals and I would like to say again, this is the Turkish power.
Of Alptekin, she said: "We are like sisters and we run every competition together." Jamal said she was satisfied to have gone two better than in the Beijing Games in 2008, the two-time world champion in 2007 and 2009 having suffered with a string of injuries in recent seasons.
"I'm really happy with the bronze position," said Jamal.
Originally known as Zenebech Tola, she moved to Lausanne in 2002 seeking Swiss citizenship but failed before turning to Bahrain.
"Four years ago I finished number five and now I'm number three so I'm happy.
"In my last 150m, I made a small mistake and bumped into Bulut so had to start my stride again." Jamal, who has raced only three races this season, added: "I have won a lot of medals throughout my career but this bronze medal is second to none."
Silver in taekwondo
Another happy news of the day came from Turkey's Nur Tatar, who scored a silver medal in women's taekwoando.
Tatar was battling for gold against her South Korean opponent.