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Turkey’s Onder: ‘The Hard Work Begins From Now’
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Although Turkish gymnast Ahmet Onder finished 0.099 points short of all-around bronze at last month’s European Championships in Szczecin, Poland, he told IG he has shifted his focus to delivering a medal-worthy performance at this fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart.

“For Stuttgart I want to compete for a top place, so I must work hard, as it is not Europeans — it is Worlds,” he said. “Everything will be different. With the team we aim to achieve historic success. If we want this I must do an excellent job there. So the hard work begins from now.”

Onder, who qualified third to the all-around final in Szczecin, clawed his way up to fifth place after breaking form on pommel horse in the second rotation. He attributes his early error, which dropped his rank on the apparatus to 17th, to expectations he placed on himself heading into the competition.

“I was a little bit stressed before the all-around final because I knew that if I did all of my routines well I could be third, and this would be a historic moment for Turkish gymnastics,” Onder said. “So in the days before, I put pressure on myself. I think I couldn’t handle this so I made a mistake.”

Onder regained his regained his composure and completed the final smoothly, but said he was disappointed to end it without a medal.

“After this I understood that I must relax, and after the first two apparatus’, I did great routines,” he said. “At the end on high bar, after my routine and even with the mistake, I thought I took the bronze medal. But it was not a high enough score for the podium. I was so sad.”

Onder said his results in the apparatus finals helped inspire and appease him, despite the fact that he did not win medals. He finished seventh on floor exercise, fifth on parallel bars and seventh on high bar.

“In the floor final I made a mistake only on my dismount, but mostly I am satisfied with my performance,” he said. “For the medal podium, scores were high, so I understand that I must upgrade my D-score if I want to compete for the floor podium. Now I’m working on this.”

Onder said he was pleased with his performance on parallel bars and anticipated a good score.

“After I saw the score I was disappointed,” he said. “I was expecting higher. And when I lost my chance to stay on the (medal) podium my motivation was very bad. But I’m very happy that my teammate (Ferhat Arican) took the bronze medal. I hope one day both of us will be on that podium.”

On high bar, Onder missed a Kolman but ended the meet in high spirits nonetheless.

“I had some problems on my Kolman, also in training that day,” he said. “I went there to do my best again. But with a little bit of tiredness from the whole week, and like I said my motivation having gone down after the p-bars final, I couldn’t do what I wanted. I was also proud that I represented my country in three apparatus finals. After all I was happy.”

Onder plans to stay busy and productive until Stuttgart, where he and his Turkish team will attempt to earn a berth to next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Turkey placed 15th at the 2018 Worlds in Doha, 1.007 points away from 12th place. Twelve teams, including the top three teams in Doha plus nine more teams in Stuttgart, will advance to Tokyo.

Onder is also positioned to improve upon his results at the last two Worlds; he was ninth all-around at the 2017 Worlds in Montreal and 15th all-around at the 2018 Worlds in Doha.

“First I’m working on my upgrades now,” he told IG. “We will go to several important competitions before Worlds. I want to try my routines and do a stable job. After this I can be ready for Worlds, and I hope it will be an unforgettable competition for me and my team.”

Read “Turkish Delight,” a collection of feature articles including Onder and fellow Turkish gymnasts Ibrahim Colak, Tutya Yilmaz and Goksu Uctas Sanli, in the October 2018 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, or to order back issues for International Gymnast magazine, click here.

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