By Cansu Dikme
Stirring “excitement” on the floor, award-winning Turkish fencers are lighting an urge among the young to take part in “one of the world’s best sports.”
Deniz Selin Unludag, 17, is the first Turkish female fencer to bring home the gold from the Junior and Cadet European Fencing Championships, from the 2018 competition this March in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“When I step onto the floor, the world stops. It has such a sweet excitement that it’s almost impossible to express it in words,” Unludag told Anadolu Agency.
Not long after Unludag’s victory, Turkey was again honored by Aylin Cakir, who took home the bronze from the same championship.
Voicing her passion for fencing, which she called “one of the best sports in the world,” Cakir encouraged young people to take up the sabres for themselves.
“Everybody who wants to taste the pleasure of success after hard work should start fencing,” said Cakir, also 17 years old.
‘Fencing is like chess played on a floor’
Calling it the “sport of chivalry,” Unludag also highlighted how fencing can help children and young people keep fit and healthy, in both body and mind.
“Fencing is a sport that helps children who suffer from attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity, and those having concentration problems. Because it’s like a chess played on the floor,” she said.
Following their success in Sochi, now Unludag and Cakir have set their sights on the Tokyo Summer Olympics, set for July and August 2020.
“I was always sure of myself, and I still am,” Unludag said confidently.
Cakir, for her part, said they could score the same success in the adult category.
The young female athletes chalked up their success to hard work and discipline.
Rising interest in fencing across Turkey
“We want to end the misconception that fencing is a sport of elites. It’s an elite sport, but not just one for elites,” Murat Atali, head of the Turkish Fencing Federation, told the agency.
Mentioning the group’s efforts to popularize fencing across Turkey, Atali said: “We try to bring fencing to the masses.”
Saying that venues for fencing are present across most of Turkey, Atali also touted provincial fencing representatives, trainers assigned to the provinces, and initiatives by clubs.
He underscored the rising interest across Turkey, saying that Turkey now has some 4,000 fencers.
He also hailed the success of Turkish athletes in making fencing more high-profile and attractive.
“Work and talent are enough for success,” he said.