With less than a week left before the London Games, where Turkey will be represented by a record number of Olympians, the athletes introduced their outfits for the Games at a fashion show in Ankara on Wednesday.
The schedule of the Olympians was unveiled by Sports Minister Suat Kılıç at Wednesday’s event. London-bound athletes are soon to fly to England for the Games in small clusters, while the biggest group is set to head to the city on July 21 after a farewell event to be hosted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at Dolmabahçe Palace in İstanbul. The national sailing team has already departed for London, arriving on Thursday.
The Olympic fashion show featured professional models in addition to the Olympic athletes, including Bahri Tanrıkulu, who will represent Turkey in taekwondo, badminton player Neslihan Yiğit, swimmer Kemal Arda Gürdal and sprinter Nagihan Karadere.
In remarks after the show on the runway, Kılıç said the team would go to London in good spirits and return with the same attitude. Recalling that Turkey is attending the London Olympics with a total of 181 athletes, 87 of whom will take part in the Paralympics, Kılıç said: “The Turkish team went to Beijing with 84 athletes in 2008. We are heading to London with 181 athletes. I hope we’ll go to Brazil with 250-300 athletes and I hope Turkish athletes will have the chance of competing to represent their national colors with a record attendance in the Olympics hosted in their native country in 2020.”
Turkey is hoping to earn the hosting rights for the 2020 Olympic Games at its fifth attempt. Having been a good host for many major international sporting events, including the 2010 World Basketball Championship and the 2011 World Indoor Athletics Championships, the country has also submitted a bid to host the European Football Championship in the same year.
The London Olympics mark various firsts for Turkey. The country will be represented in several disciplines from which it has been absent in previous editions of the world’s No. 1 sporting event, including badminton and gymnastics. Turkish athletes will compete in a total of 16 disciplines, also a first. Another major breakthrough for the nation is that women outnumber men on the Olympic team. This is mostly thanks to the national volleyball and basketball teams, which earned a berth to participate in the Games.