By Halil Ibrahim Avsar, Ahmet Sait Akcay
Turkey is experiencing a “golden age” of wrestling, the sport’s head said Tuesday.
Wrestling is a popular sport in Turkey, typified by the oil wrestling festival dating back to the 14th century that is annually held in Edirne province’s Kirkpinar.
However, the sport’s modern formats have also seen Turkish athletes win a haul of medals in international competitions over the years. Musa Aydin, president of the Turkish Wrestling Federation, said Turkey’s prowess on the world stage has reached its highest level this year.
Last summer’s World Championships in Paris saw Turkey placed fourth with 39 medals in freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s wrestling.
“Our wrestlers claimed a total of 433 medals including 109 gold, 119 silver and 205 bronze medals in international competitions in 2017,” Aydin told Anadolu Agency.
“Turkish wrestling is seeing its golden age.”
He cited Turkish record-breaking wrestlers at the European and world championships as further evidence of Turkish wrestling’s rising status.
“Our main target is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” he said. “Turkey bagged eight medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and five of them came from wrestlers.
“This showed the degree of progress in Turkish wrestling.”
Among the stars of Turkey’s wrestling team is Greco-Roman wrestler Riza Kayaalp. He won a silver at Rio but hopes to take home the gold at Tokyo.
Atakan Yuksel, who won bronze at the World Championships, said: “Our main objective is to claim gold medals at Tokyo 2020.”