Out of Turkey's rubble and into Olympic history

  • Agencies, Bolu
  • |
  • Updated: Jun 05, 2012 22:52 IST

So excited was Goksu Uctas at the thought of becoming Turkey's first Olympic gymnast, she wanted the five Olympic rings tattooed on her arm.

For now, though, the London-bound athlete has settled for a silver necklace of the famous symbol, which she twirls excitedly in her fingers.

While Turkey excels at wrestling and weightlifting -- the nation's men and women have won 67 Olympic medals in the sports — never before has a gymnast participated at the Games in Turkey's red and white national colours.

"All you really need is faith in yourself," the 22-year-old gymnast said.
Uctas' Olympic achievement is all the more noteworthy given that as a nine-year-old — a vital stage in a gymnast's development — she survived a catastrophic earthquake which struck north-west Turkey in 1999.

That earthquake killed around 17,000 people and left hundreds of thousand others homeless, including her family.

"We lived in a tent for a year, in constant fear because of aftershocks," Uctas said. "But I never stopped training, even when the gym was being rebuild, I trained outdoors and remained focused."

Pinned up on Uctas' wall is a pencil drawing she made for motivation and inspiration, of her heroine Svetlana Khorkina, Russia's Olympic gold winner.

Pele's harsh words for Brazil squad
Sao Paulo:  Former star Pele criticised the Brazilian Olympics squad saying he felt they "are not ready" for the event on the evidence of a 2-0 weekend loss to Mexico and also lambasted starlet Neymar for overly hugging the left wing.

"I think it's good this (defeat) happened as it does away with the feeling that this is a marvellous team, that it's doing fine," opined Pele of the loss to the Mexicans in Texas which came on the heels of a much more impressive 4-1 win over the United States.

Mccartney confirms Games performance
London: Beatles legend Paul Mccartney has confirmed that he will be performing at the Olympics opening ceremony this summer. "I've been booked. I would be closing the opening on 27 July," Mccartney said.


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