ISTANBUL– “I couldn’t help but cry for a while,” Furkan Akar, a 19-year-old Turkish athlete, talked about his feelings, when he finally earned his qualification to represent his country in the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.
“A miracle happened … I had one last race left, one last hope. We set the tactics with my trainer and got the quota,” the young man said, referring to the Short Track Speed Skating World Cup held in Dordrecht, Netherlands, in Nov last year.
“It will be my first time to compete at such a big event in Beijing, the Olympic Games, the summit of athletes,” Akar said, in an online interview.
In Turkey, short-track speed skating used not to be very popular, but it is gradually getting recognised, especially among young people.
Akar believes that his Olympic journey will help attract more Turks to this sport. Actually more and more people have already contacted him and asked about his competition event.
“I am leading the way in this sport. Even if time passes and I quit this sport one day, my name will remain. I am happy about that,” he said.
Ugur Erdener, a member of the International Olympic Committee and president of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey, said, Turkey would participate with a small team of seven athletes.
“The Olympic Games are a very different experience. The best will be there, and it is very important” for the Turkish athletes to face their toughest opponents, he added.
Akar’s most challenging rivals in Beijing will be the Republic of Korean and Chinese athletes.
“They are better than us,” the young athlete confessed.
However, things could change at any moment, once the race begins, as the racing environment is very different, he noted.
Akar said, his excitement and pressure for the games grow with each passing day, but he believed he will overcome all these when he gets on the ice and starts skating.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK