Turkish para athlete powers to Women’s 100m T54 European Championship record and title

Zübeyde Süpürgeci has won gold at the women’s 100-meter T54 2021 World Para Athletics European Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, setting a championship record time of 16.83 in the process.

The 27-year-old hijab-wearing athlete also won a silver medal in the 400m T54 event at the same championship.

Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay, and Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu were among those to congratulate Süpürgeci on her double-medal winning success.

Female Para athletes Hamide Doğangün and Zeynep Acet also came away with medals at the World Para Athletics European Championships. Both competed in the women’s 100-meter T53 event, Doğangün winning the silver with a time of 18.61 seconds, and Acet the bronze medal with 19.24 seconds.

Nearly 700 athletes from 43 countries took part in the tournament in Bydgoszcz, which ran event from 1 to 5 June.

Turkey came eighth in the 2021 Medals Table, bagging 17 medals in total – two more than in the corresponding event in Berlin in 2018. Between them, Turkish Para athletes won six gold, seven silver and four bronze this year.

Russia topped the Medals table, winning 74 medals, including 31 gold. Great Britain was fourth with a  medal haul of 37, including 14 gold.

It was the seventh edition of the World Para Athletics European Championships, that was launched in 2003, and served as a final warm-up to the Tokyo Paralympics, which will start on 24 August 2021.

About Zübeyde Süpürgeci

Süpürgeci is one of the stars of Turkey’s Paralympian team, having won gold at three distances in the T54 category for those with spinal cord injuries.

Born with congenital deformities of the spine, Süpürgeci first took up Para athletics in 2010, making her international debut just two years later.

She was introduced to the sport by her neighbour, who worked as a driver for Para athletes based at a special sports club in Bağcılar, Istanbul.

Süpürgeci explained her transition into a successful international athlete on the Paralympic.org website:

“I was upset that I was always at home and lived as if there was no other impaired person in the world. I never left the house. So, it was the first time I saw impaired people as a crowd. They were joking among themselves. I was surprised that they could make fun of themselves. It seemed interesting to me.

“Wheelchair racing was a very difficult sport. I had to lean all the time, our hands were hurt even with gloves. I was ashamed to say I was always having a hard time. So then the training continued, and soon I won my first championship.”

Zübeyde Süpürgeci wins European gold in the Women’s 100m T54 in Poland, 1 June 2021

Coached by Ömer Cantay member of BEGSK (Bağcılar Belediyesi Engelliler Spor Kulübü), Süpürgeci trains five days a week, and her hard work has certainly paid off.

During a decade long career, Süpürgeci has won ten medals at major international sporting events. Her first medal was a bronze in the 100m T54 at the 2012 IPC Athletics European Championships in Stadskanaal, Netherlands.

Süpürgeci has gone on to win gold medals at three different distances: 800m T54 at the 2018 Mediterranean Games in Tarragona, Spain, the 200m T54 at the 2018 IPC Athletics European Championships in Berlin, and twice gold medallist at 100m T54, first at the 2016 IPC Athletics European Championships in Grosseto, Italy, and again this year in Bydgoszcz.

She also holds the Championship Record for the 200m T54, which she set in Berlin in 2018.