Arican Credits Post-COVID Europeans Gold To “A Single Word – Dedication”

Written by John Crumlish for International Gymnast Online

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Less than a month after testing positive for COVID-19, Turkish gymnast Ferhat Arican valiantly competed at last week’s European Championships in Basel, where he improbably retained his title on parallel bars.

The 27-year-old Arican returned from quarantine, and nearly top form, to earn his second consecutive European title on parallel bars in Basel. He scored 15.30 in the final to best silver medalist David Belvaysky of Russia (15.133) and co-bronze medalists Christian Baumann of Switzerland and Lukas Dauser of Germany (15.10 each). As Arican recoups his strength, he aims for complete health and his ideal performance at this summer’s Olympic  Games in Tokyo.

In this International Gymnast Online interview, Arican shares his thoughts on coping with COVID-19, triumphing in Basel, preparing for Tokyo and using his high visibility to encourage humanity.

IGO: As at the 2020 Europeans, you had the highest Difficulty score of the finalists, but your Execution score was also too much for your rivals. To what do you attribute your victory in Basel?

FA: Preserving my title of European champion was my primary goal, and I succeeded in reaching this goal. I am very proud that I have brought this happiness to my country for the second time in a row. It is the second international contest I participated in after the pandemic and my fourth medal. Honestly, after I tested COID-19 positive, I sank into despair a bit. As there is no room for mistakes in gymnastics, there is also no room for desperation in my mind. I had only a few days for training before the European Championships, which was an excellent opportunity to challenge myself. I can sum up all of this process with a single word – dedication.

IGO: In the final, your only noticeable error was your imbalanced handstand on one bar near the beginning of your routine. What caused this mistake, and how did you prevent it from disrupting you, physically and mentally, from continuing the rest of your routine as planned?

FA: I always say that there is no room for mistakes in gymnastics. That was an unfortunate split second. Gymnastics consists of strength, flexibility, resilience and concentration. Besides physical training, I put a lot of effort into my mental improvement. I believe that I reaped the fruits of my mental pieces of training and stability.

IGO: It’s impressive that you were able to compete at all in Basel, 25 days after testing positive for COVID-19. How were you able to regain your strength to the degree that you could produce a winning performance so quickly?

FA: After I tested positive, I gave myself my word that I would do my best to catch up to the European Championships, and I would do my very best. During my quarantine, I dreamt about the gold medal every single day. I couldn’t sustain my training program for about two weeks. As you know, if you are not able to fulfill your designated training program, it reduces your capability a lot. Especially, every day counts more crucially as we are approaching the Olympics. I tried to stay positive – not for COVID but mentally! I used my limited time very efficiently right before the European Championships.

IGO: Between now and July, how will you focus your training so you can perform not only your best on parallel bars, but in the all-around, in Tokyo?

FA: I will mostly focus on parallel bars. Every day I spend a vast amount of my time on intensive parallel bars training. I put much more work on parallel bars, but at the same time, I try hard to keep the balance between parallel bars and the other five apparatus during my training sessions. I have quite a high chance of winning a medal on parallel bars compared to other apparatus. I have less than three months until the Olympics. I will be at the Tokyo Olympics in optimum condition.

IGO: In Basel, You showed your metal water bottle right after the final results were posted. What was your purpose for that gesture?

FA: After I won, I first showed the water bottle to the cameras. The point I want to draw attention to here is plastic use of the whole world. According to recent research, it is estimated that 1.3 billion tons of plastic will be scattered around the world by 2040 if we do not stop using plastic. I can give an example to visualize better. Thinking that you spread 1.3 billion tons of plastic waste on a flat surface, plastic waste will take up 1.5 times the size of the U.K. I think that we, as athletes, can make our voices heard by a broad audience by taking advantage of the universality of sports. Sport has a unique power. I always think about what I can do for the good of our world and our country and create a brighter future. It is my greatest motivation to do the best without saying what I can do alone. As I said, I believe that sports are an exceptional power that touches and unites people’s lives. I continue to work to use this power in the best way possible.

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