A saying that holds true, no matter what time period applied is that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

When discussions are formed regarding the image of Turkey for most non-citizens, only two words say it all. They are two words that were created in the 1970’s and for many have not lost its power to this day.

Midnight Express.

Istanbul

fciwomenswrestling.com article - Wikimedia photo

fciwomenswrestling.com article – Wikimedia photo

From time to time I have read that Turkey has greatly improved in terms of human rights. I wanted to believe that but was wary. Then I saw a deeply moving Turkish film called Distant and it softened my view. Few films have captured the unyielding power of loneliness so well. The only thing more omnipresent than its loneliness was the depths of its sadness.

As powerful as it was though, I could remind myself that it was still a movie. It definitely kept it real but even so, it wasn’t real. Then I read where the fine actor who played a major part in the film was later killed in a car accident and I had a sense that in life some areas aren’t meant to have a happy ending.

I’m pleased to say that there is good news emanating from Turkey in the image of a female wrestler and that’s cause for wide scale hope and celebration.

fciwomenswrestling.com article - Wikimedia photo

fciwomenswrestling.com article – Wikimedia photo

As reported in middleeasteye.net and MEE and Agencies, Turkish female wrestler Elif Jale Yesilirmak won a bronze medal in the World Wrestling Championships 58 kilograms category, becoming the first Turkish woman in history to make it to the finals to compete among the world’s top female wrestlers.

fciwomenswrestling.com article - totallycolpix.com-  photo

fciwomenswrestling.com article – totallycolpix.com- photo

The 28-year old won the bronze medal, defeating her Ecuadorian opponent, Lisset Antes, 8-2 in the championships, hosted in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

Yesilirmak managed to defeat the Kazakh athlete Aizhan Ismagulova 10-0 in the first round Thursday morning. In the second round, she toppled Hungarian Emese Barka 4-0 to qualify for the quarter finals. In the quarter final round, she lost to Russia’s Valeria Koblova 9-0 and had the right to play a ‘repechage game’ after Koblova advanced to the final.

In the ‘repechage’ stage, which allows contestants who failed to meet qualifying standards by a small margin to compete in the following round regardless, Yesilirmak defeated her Mongolian opponent Munkhtuya Tungalag 8-0 and succeeded in gaining the right to compete for the bronze medal.

Despite the popularity of wrestling in Turkey, the women’s game there has faced the same obstacles as it has worldwide – women’s wrestling was only recognized by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles in 2002.

Female wrestling championships in Turkey began only a few years ago, but Ms. Yesilirmak’s success should shine the spotlight on the sport and possibly increase participation.

fciwomenswrestling.com article - Wikimedia photo

fciwomenswrestling.com article – Wikimedia photo

The global information source Wikipedia shines a spot light on Ms. Yesilirmak’s brilliant career.

Elif Jale Yeşilırmak, née Yulia Guramievna Rekvava, born July 30, 1986 in Smolensk, Russia) is a Turkish female wrestler of Russian origin competing in the 63 kg division of women’s freestyle wrestling. She is the first ever women’s wrestler to represent Turkey at the Olympics. She is a member of Adalet SK in Ankara.

Ankara historically known with the names Ancyra and Angora, is the capital of Turkey and the country’s second largest city, Istanbul being the largest. The city has a mean elevation of 938 meters (3,077 ft.) and in 2012 had a population of 4,338,620, with its metropolitan municipality having 4,965,542.

Located in Central Anatolia, Ankara is an important commercial and industrial city. It is the center of the Turkish Government, and houses all foreign embassies. It is an important crossroads of trade, strategically located at the center of Turkey’s highway and railway networks, and serves as the marketing center for the surrounding agricultural area. The city was famous for its long-haired Angora goat and its prized wool (mohair), a unique breed of cat (Angora cat), Angora rabbits and their prized Angora wool, pears, honey, and the region’s Muscat grapes.

Born on July 30, 1986 in Russia, Yulia Guramievna Rekvava won the bronze medal for her native country in the 59 kg division at the 2009 European Wrestling Championships held in Vilnius, Lithuania.

She later moved from Sweden, where she lived, to Turkey, and was naturalized shortly before the 2011 World Wrestling Championships in Istanbul converting to Islam and taking the Turkish name Elif Jale Yeşilırmak.

Yeşilırmak became silver medalist in the 67 kg division at the Golden Grand Prix held in February 2012 at Klippan, Sweden. She won the bronze medal in the 63 kg division at the 2012 European Wrestling Championships held in Belgrade, Serbia. She became so the second ever woman wrestler from Turkey to win a medal at the European level after twelve years. She qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics after winning her matches with rivals from India, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and France in the 65 kg division at the World Qualification Tournament held in Taiyuan, China, where only the finalista were entitled for qualification.

She won the gold medal in the 67 kg division at the 2013 Mediterranean Games held in Mersin, Turkey.”

To add some levity to the portfolio the information site amusingplanet.com relates, “Elif Jale Yesilirmak, sticks to a 3,000 calorie-a-day diet. “Instead of red meat I generally eat salmon,” says Yesilirmak. “I believe fish is more healthy and nutritious. And also, lots of water. I drink a minimum of five liters of water every day.”

I see Turkey’s future as being in Europe, as one of many prosperous, tolerant, democratic countries”…..Orhan Pamuk

fciwomenswrestling.com article - Wikimedia photo

fciwomenswrestling.com article – Wikimedia photo

It’s refreshing when we scan the globe, country by country, we can see that fully competitive women’s wrestling is gaining a larger audience and increased respect.

Female Competition International would like to express our appreciation to Elif Jale Yesilirmak on her hard work, great sacrifices and perseverance. What we do in life can make a difference and can have a positive effect on people around the globe.

Ms. Yesilirmak is proof of that.

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Sources: brainyquote.com, Wikipedia, fciwomenswrestling.com, fciwomenswrestling2.com, FCI Elite Competitor, https://femcompetitor.com, amusingplanet.com, middleeasteye.net, MEE and agencies, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.