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Turkish athletes train in Ethiopia for Tokyo Olympics

Two-month training in Ethiopian town of Sululta will enable Turkish athletes to qualify for Tokyo Olympics, say team leaders

Seleshi Tessema   | 15.01.2021
Turkish athletes train in Ethiopia for Tokyo Olympics

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

Turkey's top-notch athletes have been training in one of Ethiopia’s high-altitude training sites, Sululta, with hopes to clinch the qualifying time required to compete in the marathon and 3,000 meters steeplechase in Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The 2020 Summer Olympics Games, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are now scheduled from July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, team leaders Bilal Arslan and Elvan Abeylegesse said Turkey has selected 12 athletes with the best time in the marathon and 3,000 meters steeplechase.

"For a marathon, we have ten athletes, of which six are female. Two women athletes are also training to compete in 3,000 meters steeplechase," said Arslan.

Abeylegesse said that the primary goal of the two-month training in Sululta was to prepare the athletes to compete in the championship at Trabzon, northeastern Turkey, which will take place in mid-February.

"These athletes will run to get the qualifying time required for the Tokyo Olympics in their respective fields," she said.

"We will be back to Ethiopia with those who qualified for Tokyo and do further preparation, maybe for five months," she added.

Located 12 kilometers (7 miles) north of the capital Addis Ababa at an elevation of 2,700 meters, Sululta is surrounded by mountains. It has been attracting internationally acclaimed athletes across the world.

"Sululta is an ideal place for training. Due to its high altitude, it helps athletes to gain endurance and stamina," said Arslan. "The town is plain and it provides a natural running track," he said.

Further, since dietary habits in Ethiopia are similar to that of Turkey, it helps athletes to adapt quickly.

"Everyone in the town wants to help, and the Ethiopian Athletics Federation and local officials are also assisting us," said the team leader.

According to Abeylegesse, the team has been working under a rigorous training regime over the past month and it will continue.

"We have been training with second-level young Ethiopian athletes, who helped us to learn more skills and discipline," she said.

"We are confident that we will achieve what we want," she added.
Busra Recep, a 24-year-old marathon specialist, said she was making progress in every aspect of long-distance running.

"I am doing my level best and hope to register the qualifying time for Tokyo Olympics and represent my country," she added.

Omer Alkan, a 29-year-old athlete engaged in the marathon race for the past 12 years, also hopes to hit the qualifying time, so he returned to Sululta for further training.

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