Emre Sakci Pays Tribute To His Home City Of Izmir Following Devastating Earthquake

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Emre Sakci: Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

Before Emre Sakci goes out to compete for Team Iron in the ISL at the Duna Arena, the Turkish swimmer writes Izmir in big, black letters across his heart.

Following his race – and regardless of the outcome – he turns, sits on the lane rope and makes the heart gesture with his hands in tribute to the city of his birth and where he still lives and trains.

The Izmir region bore the brunt of the earthquake that struck off the Aegean coast just over a fortnight ago.

Emre Sakci (photo: Mike Lewis)

Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

At least 115 people were reported killed with many homes and buildings destroyed and parts of the city of Izmir flooded.

While Sakci’s family are safe, the 22-year-old has found it extremely hard to be looking on from more than a thousand miles away.

In an interview with Swimming World, Sakci explained why he wrote the place name across his heart, saying:

“To support Izmir.

“My city is in a very bad situation. It’s really hard for me because I can’t do anything for my city.

“I am here but I keep my focus for the race but for Izmir it is very bad.”

Sakci, who lives with his mother Özlem and cat Spice, added:

“To be honest I get mentally tired because I am here from 11 October and I miss my city and I miss my family and our food and my city is in a very bad situation.

“It has been very difficult – absolutely. But I will try again in the semifinal and I will try to do my best again and hopefully I can.

“Thank God my family is okay now: but it has been very bad for Izmir and it is still bad.”

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Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu/ISL

Sakci has been a consistent standout performer, setting European records over 50 and 100 breaststroke.

The 2019 European short-course 50br silver medallist came within 0.04 of Cameron van der Burgh‘s 2009 world record of 25.29 in the shorter race and stopped the clock at 55.74 in the 100, 0.13 outside the South African’s 100m mark in 55.74.

Iron line up against Cali Condors, LA Current and Toronto Titans in the semi-final on Sunday and Monday.

Sakci though isn’t focused on the world records but instead is looking to always improve on his own best times.

He said:

“I just try to swim my perfect 50 breast. I just try this – not to break the world record or something else.

“I just try to beat myself, (I have) a competition with myself.”


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