Becoming the first Turkish gymnast to qualify to the Olympics is not the only interesting thing about Goksu Uctas but also her survival from a 7.6 magnitude earthquake which struck northwestern Turkey in 1999.

The earthquake also known as Izmit earthquake lasted for 37 seconds killing 17,000 people and leaving approximately half million of people homeless. Uctas’ family was among those who were left homeless, she was only nine years old at that time. “We lived in a tent for a year, in constant fear because of aftershocks,” Uctas told Reuters. “But I never stopped training, even when the gym was being rebuild, I trained outdoors and remained focused on practising as much as I could.”

The young Goksu who has a talent of drawing, pinned up a pencil drawing of her heroine Russian former gymnast Svetlana Khorkina on her room’s wall for inspiration and motivation. Goksu also uses her drawing skills as a way of relaxing after training. 

But how did the 22 year old Turkish gymnast made the Olympics?.

“I went through so many regulations material on the internet to find out how to qualify for the Games. The reason why no Turkish gymnast ever went to the Olympics so far is not incompetence, it’s just that no-one actually believed it could happen, and therefore never found out how to,” said her coach Mergul Guler who was a former gymnast herself.

In London, Goksu only competed on beam due to an injury she suffered from during her training prior to the Olympics. She scored an 11.333 ranking her 77th thus not making any final.

Istanbul is one of three candidate cities to host the 2020 Olympics, the other two cities being Tokyo and Madrid. 

Written by Gigi khazback Farid
Source: Reuters 


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