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VOLLEYBALL > Turkish 'Sultans' punch ticket to London

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Turkish national women’s volleyball team wins berth in the 2012 London Games, becoming the first female sports team from the country to qualify for the Olympics. The achievement comes after a five-match winning run in the qualifying tournament.

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Turkish national women’s volleyball team players celebrate beating Poland in the final of the Olympic qualifying tournament held in Ankara. Turkey won the game in straight sets. AA photos

Turkish national women’s volleyball team players celebrate beating Poland in the final of the Olympic qualifying tournament held in Ankara. Turkey won the game in straight sets. AA photos

Turkey will be represented in the Olympics with a women’s sports team for the first time after the national volleyball team booked their ticket to play in the London Games this summer.

The national volleyball team, nicknamed the “Sultans,” beat Poland in three straight sets (25-22, 25-22, 25-19) to win the Olympic qualifying tournament held in Ankara on May 6.

Turkey needed just 77 minutes to cap the tournament with a victory after beating Bulgaria, Croatia and Germany in the group stage and Russia in the semifinal earlier last week.

The win meant Turkey ending a 52-year drought of participating in the Olympics in a team sport.

National teams participated in six Olympic Games in football and twice in basketball prior to the 1960 Rome Games. All of those teams were male teams.

In addition, no Turkish volleyball team has ever played in the Olympics before, and Neslihan Darnel, Turkey’s star spiker, voiced her pride in making history. “From the most experienced of our squad to the youngest, everyone gave their all for this achievement … We are part of history now. I cannot think of a bigger happiness than that.”

Marco Motta, the team’s Brazilian coach, was highly emotional after the game and shed tears while speaking. “There are the efforts of many people in this success, from the federation officials to the players, from the coaching staff to press members … I have worked all around the world but have never seen such a good crew.”

The Turkish Volleyball Federation (TVF) chairman Erol Ünal Karabıyık hinted that the team had no intention of settling with what it had achieved. “A medal in the Olympics? Why not? You have to believe and work for it … We have the potential. Of course there will be a high level of excitement and maybe some worries of playing at the Olympics for the first time. As long as our players can deal with the ‘Can we make it?’ worries, medals can come, either gold, or silver, or bronze. We will win in the next one even if we don’t win this time,” he said.

Turkish President Abdullah Gül also offered his congratulations to the volleyball team. “I celebrate our national women’s volleyball team, which has achieved a first-time success in our history,” a message sent to Karabıyık read. “I wish the team all the success at the Olympics.”

May/08/2012

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