An Olympic champion in wrestling, Taha Akgul from Turkey said on Thursday that he targets another gold in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as he fully recovered from his major injury to the shoulder.
“I had a very serious injury in the Turkish national team camp. I sustained a dislocated collarbone and underwent surgery then. For me, it was very hard to catch the Olympics in a 6-month-period. I was very sad as I thought I would miss the games,” Akgul told Anadolu Agency.
It was a “God’s gift” for him that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was postponed to 2021 over the coronavirus pandemic, Akgul said, as the delay gave him time to heal and train.
One of the most respected wrestlers, 29-year-old Akgul won a gold medal in the 125 kg freestyle in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He underwent surgery in December 2019 because of a shoulder injury.
Akgul said that he wants to win his second Olympic medal.
With the 2020 Olympic Games moved to next year amid pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics will be held between July 23 and Aug. 8, 2021.
“When I went to Rio 2016, I was a 5-time European and 2-time World champion. I was the favorite [for gold]. Thank God I won the gold medal there. This was the most important medal in my career, an Olympic medal. Now I am the most experienced athlete in our team for Tokyo 2020. And our goal [for Tokyo] is to win a gold again,” Akgul remarked.
He made his Olympic debut in London 2012 as “the youngest member of the national team and very unexperienced” for the games.
The Turkish wrestler added that his success in Tokyo will shape his future for the 2024 games.
Akgul said that he sees the World Championships in Serbia as a “rehearsal for the Olympics” so he will be able to test himself in this tournament.
Belgrade will host the World Championships between Dec. 12-20 with Akgul among the competitors.