Turkey's girls to run for medals

Turkey's girls to run for medals

LONDON - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkeys girls to run for medals

Aslı Çakır Alptekin (L) and Gamze Bulut pose for photographers on the day before they are to compete in women’s 1500m finals at the London Olympic Games. AA photo

Aslı Çakır Alptekin and Gamze Bulut hope to make it to the podium tonight in a historic 1500m race, where two Turkish athletes will compete in an Olympic middle-distance final for the first time.
The two athletes will try to break Turkey’s medal drought in track and field events at the London Olympic Games as well.

“It is a great honor to run in the final, to be two athletes representing Turkey,” Çakır Alptekin said to Doğan news agency yesterday. “We both want to get medals; that’s why we came here in the first place.” Çakır Alptekin, 26, and Bulut, 20, have reason to believe that they will both make it to the podium: The two athletes completed a memorable one-two finish in the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki earlier this summer.

Bulut’s coach Süleyman Altınoluk has said that the one-two finish was part of a tactic he and İhsan Alptekin, Çakır Alptekin’s coach and husband, came up with before the final. Altınoluk made the statement at a press conference in Istanbul after the championships, but said the two athletes had been unaware of the plan.

A similar plan might be run tonight.

“We want to dictate the tempo of the race,” Altınoluk told Anatolia news agency yesterday. “We have two girls running in the final, and we should get the best results from both of them. I will work with İhsan all night.”

Using two athletes to dictate the tempo is a common practice in middle-distance and long-distance events, as seen in athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia, perennial powerhouses of the discipline.
On Aug. 8, Çakır Alptekin and Bulut both advanced to the finals.

Çakır won her first semifinal heats in 4:05.11, while Bulut timed 4:01.18 to trail Ethiopian Abeba Aregawi, who finished in 4:01.03.

“We have shown everybody that the European Championships were not a coincidence,” Bulut said. “We have trained under very difficult circumstances, but now here we are. This is it. The big day.”
Çakır Alptekin, one of the favorites of the race with her European champion tag, asked Turkey for support.

“We are now focused on the final,” she said. “I want everybody to be there with us with their goodwill and prayers.”