Chinese martial arts gains popularity in Turkey

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Wushu, a sport deriving from Chinese martial arts, is gaining followers in Turkey as the Turkish Wushu Federation expects growing popularity of the sport and more cooperation with Chinese Wushu athletes.

At a Wushu contest held from April 30 to May 1 as a part of the World Children Games in the Turkish capital of Ankara, kids of a Turkish Wushu-practising family won eight first prizes, beating their Chinese fellow contestants.

"I've been learning martial arts since I was eight," said the 10-year-old Zeynep Akyuz, who was the champion of three categories of the Wushu contest in under-12 group. "I went to China to learn Wushu for three months. My whole family like Wushu very much and I will continue to practise it."

Zeynep's sister Elif Akyuz and brother Necmettin Erbakan Akyuz all took part in the contest and claimed titles. Their father Abdurrahman Akyuz, president of the Turkish Wushu Federation, said he had a deep affection for Wushu.

"We hope all countries and regions could benefit from this extremely nice and beneficial Wushu sport. It is a duty for us to work for the development and spread of Wushu," said Akyuz.

Wushu was first practised in Turkey in the 1970s and the Turkish Wushu Federation was founded in 2006. In 2010, Turkish national team got the second place at 13th European Wushu Championship held in southern Turkey's Antalya.

This October, the 11th World Wushu Championship will be held in Ankara.

"Although we didn't field our best athletes this time, we feel other countries and regions are improving very fast in their performance of Wushu sport," said Li Dafeng, vice principal of Shandong Provincial Wushu Institute and leader of the Chinese delegation at the Wushu contest last week. "It's good for promoting Wushu as a quintessence of Chinese culture."

China sent six teenagers to participate in the Wushu contest in Ankara, where they won the first prizes of two categories.

Altogether 144 children athletes from 29 countries and regions joined the contest, warming up the sports hall on the competition day by shouting "Jiayou", the Chinese slogan for cheering the competitors.

Li Qiaoling, judge of the event, said the contest provided a chance for the world's young Wushu lovers to communicate and improve. Five Chinese judges were sent to work for the contest and help train other countries' judges, she said.

Chief judge Liu Tongwei said it was good for the development and promotion of Wushu sport to make Wushu part of the World Children Games.

The contest would pave the way for Turkey to hold the 11th World Wushu Championship and the Turkish Wushu Federation hoped it would become a biennial event.

Akyuz said the Turkish Wushu Federation has signed four Chinese coaches to improve the level of Turkish athletes.

The federation also invited a delegation from Beijing's Capital Institute of Physical Education to visit the country from April to May and discussed student exchanges, Wushu promotion and faculty exchanges between each other, said Akyuz.

There were 24,580 registered athletes practising Wushu in Turkey, but more and more people were expected to start to practice Wushu, he said.

"More Chinese coaches are needed to come to Turkey in order to train both Turkish coaches and students," said Akyuz.

"Chinese coaches are the best Wushu masters in the world," said Isa Gencturk, Secretary General of the Turkish Wushu Federation. "If we apply their training programs in our Wushu schools ,Turkish athletes will become more advanced technically and I believe our athletes will bring more medals to our country."

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