Turkey all set for 23rd Summer Deaflympics in Samsun
SAMSUNThe 23rd Summer Deaflympics started on July 18 in Turkey’s Black Sea province of Samsun, where more than 3,000 athletes from 97 countries - the highest ever number of participants in the event’s history - are competing.
Around 1,500 volunteers are carrying out duties during the event, of whom 250 are deaf. In addition, 500 sign language translators will work at the event.
Before the start of the international event, hearing impaired athlete Onur Kayıhan lectured 350 volunteers and 40 other people whose mothers or fathers were hearing impaired to teach sign language.
“I did not meet any hearing impaired friends until I was 17,” said Kayıhan, adding that he started doing sports afterwards, when he was taking speaking lessons at the Anadolu University in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir.
“Then I saw that there were many people like me,” the 35-year-old told Doğan News Agency.
“Then I learned the sign language. I understood that it was very important for me and it was actually my mother tongue.”
In addition, local authorities provided lessons for journalists who are covering the games.
The participants are competing in 21 categories, including athletics, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, bowling, cycling, football, golf, handball, judo, karate, mountain bike, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volleyball and wrestling.
The Deaflympics will be held at 37 sports facilities in eight different districts of Samsun.
As many as 294 athletes are participating in the event from Turkey.
The first Deaflympics was organized by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) in Paris in 1924 and the number of participating countries has risen constantly if the World War II era is disregarded.
The U.S. has been the most successful country in the Deaflympics with 987 medals, of which 350 were gold.
Turkey participated in the Deaflympics for the first time in 1989 and won 84 medals so far, 17 of which were gold; 33 of these medals were won by Turkish athletes in last summer’s games in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Turkey expects a record number of medals at the Samsun games, Turkish Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç said, praising efforts to register Turkey as the host country.
Samsun police chief Vedat Yavuz said some 3,500 officers would be on duty for security.
The Summer Deaflympics will continue until July 30.