RACHEL – Turks positive as European Karate Championships kick off in Istanbul

Turks positive as European Karate Championships kick off in IstanbulThe 50th European Senior Karate Championships are starting in Istanbul on Thursday and the Turkish Karate Federation (TKF) is expecting lots of spectators to help support the Turkish national team athletes as they take to the tatami in the hope of winning medals and recognition.For this very reason, the European Championships, which will run through Sunday at the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, will be open and free to the Turkish public.

andldquoWe hope that many spectators will come, especially for the opening day Thursday, as it will be important for qualifications,andrdquo TKF Chairman Esat Delihasan said in a press conference on Tuesday.Istanbul also hosted the European Championships in the National Indoor Arena in 2000.

Delihasan recalled that the venue was too small for the number of spectators in attendance. Sinan Erdem is much bigger with a capacity upwards of 16,000, but the TKF chairman is hoping to fill it up.

The championship is a critical component of the elite karate circuit. The top six athletes in each category will qualify for the first European Games to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The European Games in turn offer qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics.andldquoHowever many berths we earn is how many chances we have to win a medal,andrdquo Delihasan said.

andldquoIf we make it to the Olympics this time, I know we will come back with medals,andrdquo he added.Karate TurksKarate, like other martial arts, is one of Turkeyand#39s more successful sports, but unlike judo and taekwondo, Turkey has yet to win an Olympic medal in karate.

That does not mean that the Turks have not seen international success in the sport.Enes Erkan, who is competing in kumite, or combat, karate, is a two-time world champion, in 2012 and 2014.

He won the past two European championships and is aiming for a third in Istanbul this yearSerap zelik, in the European championships, has a list of medals that includes last yearand#39s world championship, plus bronze in 2012. She won two golds at previous European championships in 2011 and 2012, and a silver last yearandldquoI think we have prepared for this champion the best we could, but the atmosphere in the day is very important,andrdquo zelik said.

andldquoWe have all of the aantage. God-willing we can use that for our benefit in both the individual and team events to take the top position,andrdquo she added.

The Turkish national team is rounded out in the womenand#39s division by Dilara Bozan in individual kata, or technique, karate. Bozan is joined by Rabia KusmuI and Gizem Iahin in team kata Tuba Yakan, Merve oban, Ieyda Burucu and Meltem HocaIlu participate in individual kumite.

zelik, Yakan, oban and Merve Baltay make up the kumite teamFor men, Mehmet Yakan takes on individual kata, while Orun Duman, Arslan alIIkan and Ali SofuoIlu are the kata team In kumite, Aykut Kaya, Burak Uygur, Erman Eltemur and UIur AktaI take part in individual kumite. Erkan, Gkhan Gunduz, Yaser Iahintekin, Serkan YaIcI, Emre Ipek, RIan Kaptan and Ziya YaIar are Turkeyand#39s team kumite.

The Turkish team will be competing with 195 of the finest karatekas from 47 European countries. The competition will be tough, but Turkey has some of the best names in karate and they are all riding positive vibes.

andldquoWe attend tournaments and we have done better in each one,andrdquo said national team coach Ibrahim Ercin. andldquoNow, we have prepared well for the European Championships.

God-willing we will play in the finals and win some gold medals,andrdquo he added.That is just one of many steps required for Turkish athletes to reach the Olympics.

Making history with an Olympic medal in a new sport is the ultimate goal of Turkeyand#39s athletes and it all starts at home this time.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman