Turkey bags first silver medal in European gymnastics championship

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Two young athletes’ successes at the Trampoline Gymnastics European Championships held in Sochi, Russia, have encouraged the Turkish Gymnastics Federation to eye medals in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Elif Çolak, 16, and Sıla Karakuş, 17, won the first silver medal for Turkey in trampoline in Sochi on May 2.

Çolak and Karakuş came second in Europe with 44,830 points in the young women’s synchronized finals, while Çolak acquired the third position in Europe with 2,385 points in the individual finals, according to the statement by the Turkish Gymnastics Federation.

“Their medals are first in our history of gymnastics. This is a huge pride for us,” Şükrü Alp Arı, the coach of the National Trampoline Team, told daily Milliyet on May 4.

The young women’s achievements have given hope to the Turkish Gymnastics Federation to strive for success in the 2024 Olympics.

“The gymnastics world is talking about Turkey. The victories in every gymnastics category show that Turkey is now a gymnastics country,” said Suat Çelen, the head of the national gymnastics federation, proudly.

The daily report highlighted that the country would be looking for more medals in the 2024 Games in artistic, rhythmic, trampoline, aerobic and floor categories.

“Our next target is to gain success in 2024,” Çolak and Karakuş told daily Milliyet during an interview.

Living in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, the 10th-grade student Çolak said, “We believed in ourselves and worked hard for our success in Sochi.”

When asked about how she got interested in gymnastics, she said: “My muscles were weak when I was little. I barely had any energy and used to get sick quite often. To help me gain my strength back, my family encouraged me to take up gymnastics.”

After some years of basic training, Çolak started her career in trampoline at the age of 9.

“I thank my family for encouraging me to do sports,” she added.

The story of Karakuş beginning gymnastics is no different than Çolak. The 11th-grade student living in the western province of İzmir started the sport at the age of 5 with her family’s support.

Thanking her father, who is a maths teacher, and her mother, Karakuş said: “Gymnastics has been my world for 12 years. After three years of basic training, I started focusing on trampoline gymnastics when I was 8.”

Arı linked his two athletes’ success in Sochi to their hard work in the Black Sea province of Bolu before the championship.

“The camp in Bolu that lasted for four months brought success to the country. Normally at championships, when we reach the finals, we get very happy. But this time, we bagged two medals,” he added.

The federation president also agreed with Arı, saying, “These medals are very important for Turkish gymnastics. Elif and Sıla are too young, and this fact raises our hope to bag medals in 2024.”

“I am very happy because we are reaping the fruits of our hard work,” Çelen added.

Stating that she aims to win a medal in 2024, Çolak called on the nation to indulge in sports activities.

“Everybody should be involved in a type of sports because sports teach one to live a life of discipline.”

Hurriyet Daily News

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