by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Keep researching the results of yesteryear and although you may find Turkish women who have clinched medals; you will not find men.
On day six at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games; that record was put straight and very nearly it was put straight twice.
Playing in his first ever Paralympic Games, Abdullah Ozturk recovered from an opening game deficit to beat China’s Guo Xingyuan in four games (10-12, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5) to win the Men’s Singles Class 4 title.
Gold for Abdullah Ozturk, alas for colleague, Nesim Turan competing in the bronze medal match in Men’s Singles Class 4, it was not to be a similar outcome. The 24 year old Turk was beaten by Frenchman, Maxime Thomas, the reigning European champion (11-4, 11-9, 11-4)
“I have been playing for ten years, I wanted to win so much”, said Abdullah Ozturk. “After I won the semi-final, I knew that it was my big chance; you wonder if you might ever get such a chance again, for sure I was going to give it all,”
The chance was taken by the 28 year old from Ankara.
“I tried to analyse my opponent before the match so that I was prepared, I listened to my coach and we decided on the best tactics to use”, added Abdullah Ozturk.
The coach is Youssef Kilinskaya.
“I wanted to play an Asian player, I wanted to play an opponent from China, Korea or Japan; a player from one of the strongest countries in the world; I wanted to prove myself”, stressed Abdullah Ozturk.
Unquestionably he proved himself in opposition to a player from a country against whom some players have a mental block. Utter the word “China” and there is instant trepidation; not for Abdullah Ozturk.
However, one did wonder if the verdict might go to the superpower of the sport after the first game had been concluded.
“I lost the first game because I made simple mistakes; after the first game my coach calmed me down and we found solutions”, explained Abdullah Ozturk who was still coming to terms with the magnitude of his achievement.”
“At the moment I’m just in daze”, he concluded. “I really have not come to terms with what has happened; I’m stunned.”
Dumfounded maybe but it was no dream, the citation read: “Abdullah Ozturk, gold medallist and Paralympic Games champion”; the first ever for Turkey.