Turkish taekwondo champion, Bahri Tanrikulu, hopes to represent Palestine in the 2016 Olympics in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.
Tanrikulu, who is a former world champion and 2004 Olympics silver medallist told Anadalou: “I have not participated in any international competition for Turkey since the 2012 London Olympics, which allowed me to compete for Palestine”.
Taekwondo rules specify that athletes can play for any international team, if they did not compete for their national team in the last three years.
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Tanrikulu’s decision to represent Palestine was clear: “I did not want to stay insensitive to what is going on in Palestine. I want to be supportive of them”. He added, “Our president … declared their full support for me when I told them about my decision”.
In the Asian qualification rounds of the Rio Olympics, Tanrikulu competed for Palestine and won the first bronze.However, he remained ineligible for the Rio tournaments as he needed silver or gold in order to qualify. But the Turkish athlete is now pinning his hopes on a “wild card”.
He said, “The International Olympic Committee is planning to give Palestine a wild card berth”. If this happens, “I’ll be in the Olympics again at the age of 36. I would like to set a model for Turkish and Palestinian athletes”.