Interview with Ecem Güzel

How did you get involved with sailing? The first time I started sailing was during a summer vacation in Bodrum. Nobody sails in my family. I found out that a frıend of mine had gone and just started by wondering about the ‘Optimist’ name. I didn’t know it was sailboat.

Where did you learn to sail? Where do you train now? I learned to sail in Bodrum. I started competing at the local club there. Now I’m living and training in Istanbul.

Where was your first international regatta? In Italy in 2009. It was a Europa Cup. (I can say ıt was my second or third regatta ın my life).

What made you decide to sail a Laser Radial? I started to compete in the Laser Radial. I love sailing and Lasers. I decided to compete in Laser Radial because it is an Olympic class.

Describe your training experience over the years. Are you part of a big sailing team? I cannot say that there is a big team in my club but when we go to the water in Istanbul you can see about 20 Lasers training. They are all young sailors but I would say they are hiking hard in training.

This year, there’s been a noticeable change in your sailing as you finished top 10 at multiple international events. What changed for you heading into 2019? I felt very bad after my bad result at the World Championship in Aarhus last year. I can say it was mental change for the most part but besides that I started to work harder.

The highlight of your sailing career was probably this year – when you qualified Turkey for the 2020 Olympics by finishing 10th at the Laser Radial World Championships in Sakaiminato. Tell us a little bit about that regatta. What were some of the challenges and what went well for you there? Our biggest goal this year was to win the country selection and get the Olympic ticket. We knew our program was correct with every detail. World Championship was the last regatta for Olympic trial. During the regatta I had a great performance. I was second before the last day. At the end I missed the podium but I won the Turkish Olympic trial.

Can you describe how you felt when you realized you qualified Turkey for the Olympics? Dreams come true and the best is yet to come.

Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with Nazli Donertas, who competed for Turkey at the London and Rio Olympics? Do you train together or only compete against each other? She was more experienced than me but she never wanted to work with me. She wanted to continue with her own program. We are in different clubs and we work with different coaches so we were not training together.

As we’re closing in on the final months before the Tokyo Olympics, what are your priorities and goals? Tokyo will be my first Olympics. It would be really nice for me to finish in the top.

Young Turkish sailors likely look up to you as a role model, do you interact with or coach any youth sailors? If not, do you have any advice for them? When Im training in Istanbul most of the youth sailors are my training partners. If I have to give advice I’d say ‘Keep doing what you love.’

Do you attend any university? I’m still a college student. I’m studying Sports Management in Marmara University.

Do you have any long-term goals outside of sailing? Finishing my school is my next goal after sailing. Hope it doesn’t extend too long. 🙂

How do you like to spend your free time when you’re not sailing? I don’t really have much free time. I like to spend my free time with my friends. I also enjoy spending time with myself.

Where is your favorite place that you have traveled to for sailing? Absolutely Garda.

What would you like readers to know about Ecem Güzel as a person? I have a calm personality. Even though I am not talkative from the outside I’m not like that. Sometimes my friends keep me silent because I talk a lot.