By Emre Asikci
ANKARA (AA) - Ibrahim Colak, a Turkish athlete who recently won the first-ever gold medal for his country in World Artistic Gymnastics Champions this year, now aims to win a 2020 Summer Olympics medal in Tokyo.
Colak, 24, became the first Turkish athlete to win gold on men's ring with 14,933 points, finishing 0.033 points ahead of Italia's Marco Lodadio at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships this year.
"I'm proud of having a medal for my country. We try to raise our flag to the highest as the national athletes and I am very happy to be able to do this especially at the world championships," Colak told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
Speaking about his next target, Colak said he wants to earn a medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"All athletes dream of winning a medal at the European, world and Olympic Games, I already clinched medals in European and world championships, and winning a medal in 2020 Summer Olympics is my target," he said.
"I want to succeed at the Olympic Games by working harder and I believe we will have good results with my teammates in Tokyo 2020".
Asked about Turkish people's reactions to his achievement, Colak said they are proud of him, and added: "I received many positive comments on social media, and I was the top trending topic on Twitter."
He also said gymnastics hasn't attracted much attention, but the athletes try to promote it to the best of their ability.
- Turkish athletes need sponsors to succeed
The 24-year-old gymnast added he had no sponsor until this year's achievement, and added that finances do matter to have a healthy and balanced life.
"My rivals have lots of sponsorship agreements from eating to drinking, and from clothing to transportation, so they feel very relaxed and can focus on their work as sponsor plays a crucial role for the gymnastics," he stressed.
Successes of Turkish athletes in gymnastics positively affect the sponsorships, Colak added.
- 'Gymnastics help children have flexible bodies'
Asked about his opinion on doing gymnastics of young people, Colak stressed that every family must introduce gymnastics to their children as early as possible.
"Gymnastics is the basis of all sports helping children have flexible bodies, develop muscles and motor skills. Each athlete needs to have these qualifications. A strong and flexible athlete minimizes the risk of diseases.
"Children can be very successful in every branch of sports if they do gymnastics for 2-3 years," he said.
Gymnastics is not only a physical sport, he said, adding: "Even though gymnastics is a physical sport, it also has a mental dimension. A gymnast with a strong mind can direct his or her pace in a better way."
Colak also added that he spent approximately 5-6 hours a day for training, which he does six days a week.