ESRA – Wrestlers dominate on mat, unexciting year for volleyball

Wrestlers dominate on mat,unexciting year for volleyballIt has been a year of sensation and drama in Turkish football and basketball, which received the most attention in the nationandrsquos sports agenda In smaller spaces spared for other sports disciplines on sports pages there have been many stories of success, even though it was not the best yearTurkish wrestlers won over 200 medals in international tournaments held in every age group. Senior athletes took part in world and European championships throughout the year Turkey won a total of eight medals in the Worlds held in September in Uzbekistan and was placed fifth in the rankings of the participating countries, while one bronze medal was taken back after Iamil ErdoIan, who competed for the nation for the first time, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Three-time European champion Taha Akgul won his first world title and made his nation proud with a gold medal in the menandrsquos 125-kilogram competition. Yakup Gr, RIza Kayaalp and Yunus zel won silver medals.

Russia-born Elif Jale YeIilIrmak, bronze medalist in the womenandrsquos 58-kilogram freestyle, wrote history in this tournament and became the first Turkish woman to win a medal in a senior world championship. In Aprilandrsquos 2014 European Wrestling Championship held in Finland, the Turkish athletes clinched nine medals in total and were ranked third.

Akgul and Kayaalp were the gold medalists in the menandrsquos 120-kilogram freestyle and 130-kilogram Greco-Roman competitions. Turkish Wrestling Federation boss Hamza Yerlikaya said in his remarks which appeared in Turkish media outlets following the Worlds that his athletes will maintain their medal-hunt in the new year as well.

Year to forget in volleyballThis year was not as impressive as previous years, but the Turkish clubs made their way to medals in continental competitions. VakIfBank and Halkbank reached second place in the womenandrsquos and menandrsquos European Champions Leagues.

The womenandrsquos national team took part in the world champs while the menandrsquos team virtually faded into oblivion.The Sultans, as the Turkish womenandrsquos volleyball team is known, did not thrill their fans during 2014.

They made an appearance at the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Womenandrsquos World Championship and earned a berth in the second round. In Pool F, the Sultans were paired with world giants including eventual champions US and Russia and failed to make it to the third round.

They ended the competition with a 3-0 win over Kazakhstan and shared ninth place with Germany at the end of the championship.VakIfBank had a less than fantastic season compared to its historic performance of the 2013-2014 season.

Italian coach Giovanni Guidettiandrsquos team became the silver medalists at the CEV Womenandrsquos Champions League after losing to Russian side Dinamo Kazan in the finals. They earlier defeated fellow Turkish league side EczacIbaII Vitra in the game to reach the finals, with EczacIbaII eventually coming in fourth place.

VakIfBank has dominated the recent years of the tournament, having clinched two titles in 2011 and 2013. The Istanbul side did not appear in the final four of the competition only in 2012 during this period, when Fenerbahe won the honor VakIfBank is the sixth most successful team in the history of CEV Champions League, winning two titles and being runner-up three times plus a world championship once.

Guidettiandrsquos team ruled the domestic league last season and won the second consecutive womenandrsquos Turkish Volleyball League championship as well as the Turkish Cup and the Super Cup. It also maintained its winning streak up to 73 games early into 2014.

However, Fenerbahe avenged its defeat in the title-decider of last season and defeated VakIfBank 3-0 to end its opponentandrsquos run in late January. VakIfBank currently leads the season with a single loss, trailed by Fenerbahe.

Halkbank dominated the menandrsquos national volleyball and won all three domestic titles: the league championship, Turkish Cup and Turkish Super Cup. In the championship playoffs, Fenerbahe menandrsquos volleyball team made it to the title-deciders like the womenandrsquos team of the club, but Halkbank was too strong and outlasted the Istanbul club 3-1 in the series.

It was the sixth championship of the Ankara side, which came after 16 years.In the semifinals held in Ankara, Bulgarian coach Radostin Stojcevandrsquos Halkbank defeated Jastrzebski of Poland 3-1 in the semis, yet was beaten by Russian club Belgorod 3-1 in front of its home crowd to lose the title.

Weightlifting tries to recoverDuring 2014, the national weightlifting world tried to shake off the negative impacts of the previous yearandrsquos doping scandals. Many Turkish athletes in different age groups tested positive for doping and returned their medals for this reason.

On a tense election day in March 2013, Tamer TaIpInar was elected the new president of the Turkish Weightlifting Federation and one of his vows was to save the prestige and dignity of Turkish weightlifting and lead its athletes to achievements, as the nation is used to. He kept his promise largely there have been no more doping scandals in 2014.

Turkeyandrsquos female athletes came to the fore with their achievements in the crisis-stricken national weightlifting arena Sibel zkan brought home a silver medal in the womenandrsquos 85-kilogram snatch event in the 2014 World Weightlifting Championships held in Kazakhstan. In the Euros held in Israel, AyIegul oban won two gold medals, while Nurcan Taylan clinched one silver and one bronze medal.

In addition, two silver medals came in menandrsquos events. Turkey heard a piece of good news from the 2014 European Athletics Championships held in Switzerland in August.

Ali Kaya won a bronze medal in the menandrsquos 10,000-meter event.

SOURCE: The East African