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Among all sports in Turkey, the most popular one is football.[1] Turkey's top teams include Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, and Beşiktaş. In 2000, Galatasaray cemented its role as a major European club by winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Two years later, the Turkish national team finished third in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals in Japan and South Korea, while in 2008, the national team reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Euro 2008 competition. The Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, while the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in Istanbul hosted the 2009 UEFA Cup Final.

Other mainstream sports such as basketball and volleyball are also popular. Turkey hosted the Finals of EuroBasket 2001 and will also host the Finals of the 2010 FIBA World Championship. The men's national basketball team finished second in EuroBasket 2001 and reached the quarter-finals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship; while Efes Pilsen S.K. won the Korac Cup in 1996, finished second in the Saporta Cup of 1993, and made it to the Final Four of Euroleague and Suproleague in 2000 and 2001.[2] Turkish basketball players such as Mehmet Okur and Hidayet Türkoğlu have also been successful in the NBA. Women's volleyball teams, namely Eczacıbaşı and Vakıfbank Güneş Sigorta, have won numerous European championship titles and medals.

The traditional Turkish national sport has been the Yağlı güreş ("oiled wrestling") since Ottoman times.[3] Edirne hosts the annual Kırkpınar oiled wrestling tournament since 1361.[4] International wrestling styles governed by FILA such as Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling are also popular, with many European, World and Olympic championship titles won by Turkish wrestlers both individually and as a national team.[5] Another major sport in which the Turks have been internationally successful is weightlifting; as Turkish weightlifters, both male and female, have broken numerous world records and won several European,[6] World and Olympic[7] championship titles. Naim Süleymanoğlu and Halil Mutlu have achieved legendary status as one of the few weightlifters to have won three gold medals in three Olympics.

Istanbul Park racing circuit a few hours before the Formula One Turkish Grand Prix

Motorsports have become popular recently, especially following the inclusion of the Rally of Turkey to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2003,[8] and the inclusion of the Turkish Grand Prix to the Formula One racing calendar in 2005.[9] Other important annual motorsports events which are held at the Istanbul Park racing circuit include the MotoGP Grand Prix of Turkey, the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the GP2 Series and the Le Mans Series. From time to time, Istanbul and Antalya also host the Turkish leg of the F1 Powerboat Racing championship; while the Turkish leg of the Red Bull Air Race World Series, an air racing competition, takes place above the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, paragliding and other extreme sports are becoming more popular every year.



Turkey has risen to prominence in a number of sporting areas in recent decades. football has seen a rapid transformation earning it third place in the coveted 2002 FIFA World Cup. Its domestic teams are dominated by Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, and Beşiktaş. Of these, Fenerbahçe's European triumph came in the now defunct 1967 Balkans Cup. Galatasaray has seen the most success, winning the 2000 UEFA Cup and European Super Cup, as well as fielding many of the players for the international team. In recent years, Turkey has exported many of its players into top foreign teams, including Internazionale, FC Barcelona, Parma, Milan, and Bayern Munich, among others. As well as sending players abroad, the Turkish league has also attracted players into Turkey. World class players such as Pierre van Hooijdonk, Mário Jardel, Nicolas Anelka, John Carew, Milan Baroš, Radomir Antić, Óscar Córdoba, Lincoln, Hakan Şükür, Mateja Kežman, Kleberson, Roberto Carlos, Zoran Simović, Frank de Boer, Franck Ribéry, Dani Güiza, and many more have played at some point or continue to play in Turkey.


Weightlifting has been another successful sport for Turkey, regularly relied upon to provide gold medals in the Olympics. Its most famous weightlifters, Naim Suleymanoglu and Halil Mutlu, are only two of four weightlifters in the world to have won three gold medals in three olympics.


Athletics is another fast improving sport. Süreyya Ayhan set the 1500m world record in 2003 and Elvan Abeylegesse set a new 5000m record in 2004.

2012 Olympics

Turkey placed a bid to become a candidate for the 2012 Olympics but was eliminated in the initial rounds. Part of its bid included the building of the 80,000 seater Atatürk Stadium in Istanbul. The stadium hosted the European Champions League final in 2005.

Formula One

Another major sporting event that takes place in Turkey is the Turkish Grand Prix. The track located at Istanbul has a seating capacity of 155,000 people (biggest in Europe), is just over 5,340 m long and runs anti-clockwise. The track was designed by Hermann Tilke, designer of the Sepang, Bahrain and Shanghai tracks. GP2 series also include a Turkish Team (Petrol Ofisi FMS International) and a Turkish Driver, Jason Tahincioglu.


Basketball is also gaining popularity in Turkey. Turkey came second in European Basketball Championship in 2001 in Istanbul. Turkey also came ninth in the 2002 FIBA World Championship. Three Turkish nationals, Ersan İlyasova, Hedo Türkoğlu, and Mehmet Okur, have achieved success in the prestigious National Basketball Association of North America, generally considered the world's top basketball league. Turkey will host the 2010 FIBA World Championship, which could introduce more Turks to the game. Turkey have advanced to quarter-finals in the 2006 FIBA World Championship, achieving a non-expected sixth place.

Sailing and boat trips

Turkey has four bordering seas; the Black Sea, Marmara Sea, Aegean Sea, and Mediterranean Sea, so it not surprising that cruising is a popular sport. There are many cruising charters available. Gulets are traditional motor yachts and gulet holidays are becoming increasingly popular. Best Gulets are build in Marmaris and Bodrum.

Scuba diving

Mediterranean and Aegean coasts are the best places to dive. It is also possible to dive to shipwrecks from World War I (with special permission of local authorities) in Gallipoli, Çanakkale.


Turkey's rivers provide perfect conditions for canoeing and rafting, for both beginners and experienced. Some of the best rivers for rafting are Çoruh, Barhal, Berta, Fırtına, Çolaklı, Köprüçay, Manavgat, Dragon, Göksu (Silifke), Zamanti, Göksu (Feke), Kızılırmak, and Dalaman Çayı.


The bays around Çesme, Alaçatı, Bodrum, and Datça peninsulas as well as Antalya have ideal wind conditions for windsurfing. Famous windsurfer Cagla Kubat is also from Turkey.


Fishing cannot be done from any boat without a license, even if you're an amateur. You must apply to have one by submitting some I.D. cards and paying a fee 150 Turkish Lira for two years. Details concerning fishing zones, the minimum sizes of fish that can be caught, and the numbers of fish that can be caught per person can be obtained from the Department of Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Aegean and Mediterranean seas are rich fishing areas.


Plane gliding, hang gliding, parachuting, paragliding and single engine flights are catered for as well as services that provide instruction courses. Best areas are Fethiye, Eskişehir, Pamukkale and Istanbul.


Turkey will host the 2009 Fencing World Championship. It will be realized from 16 to 26 of October, in Antalya.

See also


External links



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