Turkey’s 2012 Female Olympians: Role models for our youth
By: Melis Figanmese
The 2012 Olympics were quite an event for women. As we at TPF fight for gender equality in all parts of the world, and especially in Turkey, we look for tools on how to educate young women and keep them focused on academics. It is a proven fact that all students, regardless of gender, that are involved in a sport, who participate in high school athletics do just as well academically, if not better, than non-sport participants and are less likely to drop out of school.” (Schneider B., 2003) We can only hope these motivating role-models will inspire more females in Turkey to pursue athletics.
The event that brought goose bumps to most Turks: female Turkish runners, Asli Cakir Alptekin and Gamze Bulut, brought home gold and silver medals in women's 1,500 meters, with Alptekin winning Turkey’s first-ever gold medal in an athletics event in the Olympics. Alptekin’s coach commented on their victory: "When young men leave university nowadays, they drop sport, because they’re more concerned about their careers, but young women are taking sport more seriously; they are far more professional."
2012 also marked the first year in history that Turkey and the U.S. sent more female athletes to the Olympics than males: This Olympic year, Turkey sent in total 114 athletes, 66 women and 48 men. Not only were these female Olympians strong in number, they powered in determination. Earlier this month, TPF posted on our Facebook page about Turkey’s first Olympic gymnast, whose dream it was to make it to London. A hardworking, strong athlete from the rural town of Bolu, that stated “At 9, [Uctas and family] were forced from their home by an earthquake that struck northwest Turkey. They spent a year living in a crowded refugee camp, where she practiced simple moves — headstands and flips — outside the tents.” (http://nyti.ms/MSzi5f) Grit and willpower pushed her.
These women showed Turkey, regardless of income level or where you live, sports are an equalizer. They stand for a statement that all women of Turkey can believe in.
"We wanted two medals and we got them. It's like gaining two gold medals…This is the Turkish power.” – Asli Cakir Alptekin
It’s not only Turkish power, its women’s power.