World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish taekwondo athlete Bahri Tanrikulu hopes a "wild card" for Palestine would enable him to compete for the country in the upcoming Olympics in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Wednesday, Tanrikulu, who is a former world champion and 2004 Olympics silver medalist, said: "I have not participated in any international competition for Turkey since 2012 London Olympics, which allowed me to compete for Palestine," Tanrikulu said.
According to rules for taekwondo, an athlete can play for any international team, if one did not compete for their national team in the last three years.
"I did not want to stay insensitive to what is going on in Palestine. I want to be supportive of them," he said.
"Our president and prime minister knew about my situation, they declared their full support for me when I told them about my decision," he added.
When Tanrikulu competed for Palestine in the Asian qualification rounds of the Rio Olympics, he won bronze. But even though he won a medal for Palestine, he remained ineligible for the Rio tournaments. According to rules, he needed silver or gold in order to qualify. But the Turkish athlete has not yet given up and was now pinning his hopes on a “wild card”.
"I won Palestine's first bronze medal in taekwondo. The International Olympic Committee is planning to give Palestine a wild card berth," he said.
If the committee decides to give Palestine a wild card, then "I'll be in the Olympics again at the age of 36. I would like to set a model for Turkish and Palestinian athletes," he added.
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