Yanıt prevailed in all her races leading up to the final, where she came away with first place easily. Trailing Yanıt was Ireland’s Derval O’Rourke -- Yanıt beat her by 2 milliseconds, breaking her own semifinal time of 12:71 to break the Turkish record again in 12:63.
It was Yanıt’s first time at the European championships, and she threw herself onto the ground in joy after her winning race. The crowd cheered her on with a long ovation while she made a victory lap around the track, draped in the Turkish flag.
Speaking to Turkish journalists after the race, Yanıt described her feeling of victory: “It’s like I’ve gone crazy -- it is truly a great, great happiness. This is what I wanted, this was my dream. You might not believe me, but I had even written down 12:63 [as my target]. When I got out on the track, I told myself, ‘You’re going to do this’.”
“Of course I didn’t go out there to make a time, but to win the gold medal -- and I was in the clouds when I saw ‘Nevin Yanıt’ written on the screen,” the 24-year-old Turkish national team athlete said. “It’s really a very wonderful feeling of happiness, and I deserve it, I worked hard. No matter what happened, I didn’t give up, didn’t go down. I got a return on my work. For that reason I am thankful -- I love you mom and dad!”
Appearing emotional and still overwhelmed by the gold, Yanıt explained: “When the race was finished, I didn’t know I had won. At that moment, I was just thinking about crossing the finish line. Seriously, even now I’m like, ‘What did I do?’ My dream was to come across the finish line first, and later on when I saw my name, when I saw coach Cüneyt jumping around in the air and when the Turkish flag came out, I understood that I had accomplished something. When I saw my name I said, ‘Okay, that’s me’.”
Yanıt said this success was exactly what she had been working for and that she had a newfound motivation due to her win. “My dream came true, I made the time of my dreams. Now I can see myself in much better places. If only the world championships were being held right now. I don’t remember anything. I feel as if I’m in a dream. I’ll believe it when I see the news tomorrow. It’s like I settled down into an afternoon nap and they’re going to wake me up any minute,” she said.
Yanıt came out for the medal ceremony wearing a star-and-crescent necklace and earrings set given to her as a gift by trainer Cüneyt Yüksel and his wife, and had her fingernails painted red and white. “I was absolutely ready for this final. Such a win is fitting for Turkey, and I got the gold medal and I’m coming home,” Yanıt said proudly.
Back in Turkey, praise is pouring in for the young Turkish athlete’s performance. Turkey Athleticism Federation President Mehmet Terzi called her score a “tremendous time,” saying: “Nevin made her way to the top by running many races. Her making 12:71 wasn’t a surprise for us, but 12:63 is a tremendous time. I think that she scored in a way that’s indicative of how she’ll do in the future; by 2012 her time will be down to 12:50 and she’ll take her place as the world’s first.”
President Abdullah Gül’s office issued a written statement noting that he had sent a message congratulating Yanıt on her win, saying: “Our president has sent a congratulatory telegraph to our national team athlete Nevin Yanıt, who won the gold medal in the women’s 100-meter hurdle at the 20th European Athletics Championships going on in Spain’s Barcelona in a success that makes us proud.” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly sent her a congratulatory message as well.
Yanıt’s gold medal brings Turkey’s standing in the medal count at the championships to sixth. Russia is currently leading with 21 medals, eight of them gold.