What Spiderman and karate have in common? How does one week look like for professional karate athlete alongside with studying? Read the interview with Uğur Aktaş, currently one of the best karatekas in the world, about these topics, his beginnings and future plans.
Uğur Aktaş is 23 years old Turkish national karate representative as well as a representative from Istanbul Aydin University. He is familiar in universities circles in Croatia because he also was a competitor on EUG 2016 where he took one gold and one bronze medal. On this interview, he came with his friend and colleague, 25-years old Mehmed Usda. So we spoke with both of them.
What about your career besides university sport?
Uğur: I’m at the moment World ranking leader and first in the Olympic Games ranking qualifications. It is the first time karate will participate in the Summer Olympic Games and I’m preparing seriously for that. That’s why I’m hoping I’m ready to take gold in individual and team category here in Zagreb.
Mehmed: I don’t have a professional career. I just compete in the universities competitions and in our national tournaments.
What is your favourite memory from all those tournaments?
Uğur: First time I’ve won European championship gold medal in 2012. It was cadets championship in Baku. That feeling is unforgettable and it motivated me more even I took another 6 medals on European championships after that.
Mehmed: My favourite memory is actually my gold medal from EUG 2016. Both Uğur and I were here and we had a really great time.
Whoever says university and professionalism can’t go alongside, check out the story of these guys. Uğur already has an engineering diploma and now he studies for the second time. This time it is sports.
Uğur: My first college was hard and sometimes studying combine with sports is hard in general. I believe that if you want something really hard, you have to go the hard way. For me, that means the lack of social life, but I don’t mind doing little sacrifice.
What are your plans after karate?
Uğur: Now I can’t do my job because of tight schedules. Only this year I’ve had 10 hard international matches, all of them important for Olympic points. I’ll think about that after the career.
Uğur thinks the Olympics are a big chance for team Turkey.
Uğur: Olympic Games are my dream. It will be their first edition and I’m hoping I’ll write the history there as the first gold medalist.
How does your week look like?
Uğur: I have 20 days off for this year and one day during the week. All other time is full of training and competitions. I train mostly 10-11 training and a week.
Mehmed: I train once a day, but I also work so I can only combine it like this.
How do you concentrate on the fight? Do you have some rituals?
Uğur: Training is my motivation, it keeps me going forward. If I do my best in training, I know I will be my best at the competition. When I know I’m ready I just go to tatami without too much thinking and fight with my heart.
Mehmed: Jokes and laughs produce good energy for me. I’m also getting married at the end of this year, so she is my big motivation.
Lest return on the start for the second. How did you start with karate?
Uğur: We actually have the same story. We had too much energy as children, we couldn’t stop playing around and making troubles. We also like Spiderman too much so we always jumped around. For example, my parents didn’t know anything about karate but after 4 months my sensei said that I would be good if I continue so my parents supported me.
So Spiderman is "guilty" of good karate careers?
Uğur: Yes (laughs)
If you have to give one advice to people who want to achieve greatness in karate, what would it be?
Uğur: Patience and hard work are everything. You can not be demotivated by bad results. We all do mistakes. If you want to be a great and successful fighter, you have to work hard and be stronger than those mistakes.
Mehmed: We came here before and it was great, so this year everything is familiar. I’m here as a psychologist of the team and I’m in charge of a good mood. We have that here.