Tutya Yilmaz Interview

5 min read
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On a recent trip to Istanbul I was lucky enough to be treated to some traditional Turkish cuisine by Tutya and her family in a wonderful restaurant on the shores of the Bosphorus.

Tutya became known to the wider gym community after her standout performance in Rio 2016 where she hit a phenomenal beam routine and almost (should have in my opinion) qualified to the beam final.

Following a period of recovery from meniscus surgery she is back and will be in action at the Turkish Nationals starting today. She will compete in the all-around for the first time since Rio (you may remember that she only competed bars at Worlds in Montreal).

Before we start with the interview with Tutya I must tell you about the conversation I had with her father who told me that as a youngster Tutya went to gym camps in all the top gymnastics countries to experience the different training methods. You can see some photos of these camps on her official website. http://tutyayilmaz.com/fotograflarim/

He also told me that she trains alone and has the best support system with coaching, therapists etc. A real contrast to other gymnasts I’ve spoken to who really struggle with funding/training/support etc.

Her initial plan was to move on from gymnastics post Rio but he told me that when he looked into her eyes he realised she wasn’t done and wanted to pursue Tokyo as Rio made her realise that she could achieve more in the sport.

Tutya’s family is incredibly close and it was a joy to see someone so happy and motivated in their sport with such a fantastic support system.

I must also thank Tutya’s father for driving me all the way back to Osmanbey which is a million miles away from the area of Istanbul that they live in. For anyone who’s ever visited Istanbul it’s absolutely overwhelming and the traffic is very interesting to say the least.


** How did you start gymnastics, at what age and how did you discover this sport?**

I was a very active child when I was very little. Gymnastics is not very popular in Turkey and my Dad wanted to enrol me in track and field. Once I discovered gymnastics at age 4 I enjoyed it so much I never went to track & field.

Where do you train (city, club name)? Tell us about your weekly routine, how many hours do you train?

I train in Istanbul at the Istanbul Technical University and I train alone, my coaches are Fernando Guerrero (Former Parkettes Coach) and Tugce Saritepe Akbas.

I train 40/42 hours per week and my schedule changes a lot. I usually have school in the morning gym at 12 or 2 until 8pm.

Were you selected for elite gymnastics at a young age, how does this work in Turkey, to be selected and train at the elite level?

The system is getting better and has become more popular since Rio. To get onto national team you have to compete at Turkish champs and usually top 4 or 5 make to National team. As there are a only a few of us, you find that it’s the same few girls that get international assignments.

** What is your favourite memory at a gymnastics competition, or your favourite competition you have attended and why?**

Obviously Rio it exceeded all of my expectations. My favourite memory was competing on beam and being so close to the final. I had no goals in mind before the competition so everything was a huge and pleasant surprise. I surprised myself and the world.

What is your favourite apparatus?

Beam. It’s a lot of fun. For some gymnasts it’s scary but for me it is always a lot of fun to train and compete.

** What is the skill that you like doing / training the most and why?**

Back handspring full twist.

Do you have a least favourite element or one that was the most difficult to learn and why?

Bars, no skill in particular.

Have you had any setbacks in your career? What keeps you motivated, people or things that inspire you to keep going?

When I was 14 my gym in Istanbul closed, and I had to train 3 hours away. I found the long journey very stressful I kept getting ill and felt very pressured psychologically. I actually quit for a week. Mehmet Baykan the Sports Minister in Turkey helped me a lot opening a gym in Istanbul within a week with all brand new apparatus. I resumed training straight away.

What are your plans for 2018? (Some competitions we will be able to see you at in the near future, events you are training to participate in?)

My plan is to compete in May at Turkish championships, Koper World Cup in Slovenia, Mediterranean Games in Spain, European Championships in Scotland, and Worlds in Doha.

Do you currently do anything else besides gymnastics? What is your life outside gym?

I spend time with friends family, I go to school I’m in the last grade of high school I will graduate this year. My plan is to compete in Tokyo in 2020 and after the Olympics I will start University and study Media.

Are you working on any new skills?

On Vault, I’m working on a DTY but I don’t think I’ll compete it this year because of my knee, I will stick to the FTY.

On bars, I’m working on a Shap and a Pak.

On Beam, I have new leaps and my start value is currently a 6.2.

My floor routine is the same as before.

Thank you to Tutya and the Yilmaz family, best of luck with your upcoming competitions.




Article: Emma Bailey

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