Turkish steeplechaser hopes to take medal in Taipei despite injury

Taipei-Turkish middle-distance runner Tugba Guvenc is hoping the injury she sustained during the world championships in London will not stop her from winning a medal at the Taipei Universiade.

Guvenc, who will compete in the women's 3000-meter steeplechase in Taipei, told CNA Wednesday that she is aiming to win a medal in Saturday's final even though she has not fully recovered from her injury.

"The color of the medal is not important. I just want to win one," said the 23-year-old student from Halic University.

Guvenc hurt her ankles during the water jump at the recently concluded IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Championships in London. As a result, she clocked only 10 minutes 13.03 seconds and failed to advance to the finals.

The athlete said her biggest rivals at the Taipei Universiade are Genevieve Lalonde from Canada and Belen Casetta from Argentina, who both made the final at the London world championships.

Guvenc clocked 9 minutes 36.14 seconds to win the gold medal in the women's steeplechase at the 2015 European Athletics U23 Championships. She also won bronze in the same event at the 2017 European Team Championships.

However, Guvenc did not start out as a middle-distance runner. In fact, she trained for eight years as a sprinter and it was not until 2015 that she began competing in the steeplechase, which is still a relatively new event to her.

Nevertheless, her sprint training has been helpful in the steeplechase because speed is especially important on the last lap, she said.

Although hurdling is easy for Guvenc because she also trained as a 400-meter hurdle runner, she finds the water jump particularly challenging.

"I lose many seconds after the water jump and there are seven jumps," she said.

Runners have to clear a total of seven water jumps and 28 barriers in the 3000-meter steeplechase.

Guvenc is confident that with time, she will improve as a steeplechaser and is looking to make the finals at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

During the interview, Guvenc also shared an interesting episode at the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games in May, where she achieved her personal best time of 9 minutes and 26.09 seconds.

Not realizing that the final was on May 17, Guvenc said she went on an 11 kilometer training run the day before, but despite that still came fourth, not far behind the bronze medalist.

She burst into tears after the event at having missed out on a medal but was all smiles when she learned she had achieved a personal best. Later she cried again when thinking about the medal, Guvenc said laughing.

Asked how she overcomes difficulties or downtime in such a physically demanding sport, Guvenc said she plays the theme tune from "Rocky," and that always gets her right back on her feet.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council