Turkey makes history with first win at world women’s curling championship

After knocking at the door several times this week against some of the world’s strongest curling countries, Turkey finally broke through with its first victory at the BTK Tires and OK Tire World Women’s Curling Championship.

Turkey stole a point in the first end and added two points in each of the third, fifth and seventh ends to roll to a 9-7 win over Czech Republic in the evening draw Thursday. Turkish skip Dilsat Yildiz elected to blank the ninth end and ran the Czech out of rocks in the 10th end.

They did it in front of a CN Centre crowd of 1,734, the largest of the tournament so far, and the cheering fans in Prince George let out a roar of approval after seeing Turkey put the finishing touches on the team’s historic win.

Turkey is competing in its first-ever women’s world championship and will improve its record to 2-9 this afternoon when it scores a default win over Scotland in the 2 p.m. draw. The Scottish team was forced to withdraw from the 13-team event Sunday due to players testing positive for COVID-19.

“This is our first world championship and first win and we are so happy,” said Turkish third Oznur Polat. “It was a really good atmosphere and we curled so good. We loved the crowd because they were so excited about us. They were so loud and we love it.

“I think in Turkey people will be so happy because we won and of course they wanted us to win more, but we didn’t, but that’s OK.”

Team Turkey had three close defeats earlier in the tournament, losing 7-6 to Japan on Saturday, 11-10 to Denmark on Tuesday and 9-7 to Italy on Wednesday. They came to Prince George with confidence gained from their performance at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Holland in December in which they went 3-5, scoring wins over Japan, South Korea and Scotland.

“First of all, we are having a fantastic and full world championship, we finished three matches with one point differences at the end,” said Yildiz, through an interpreter.  “We’ve had three matches where we only just lost. Now we have our first win of the tournament and we’re happy. We feel good now and want to win the rest of our games.

“It was a very exciting atmosphere. We are happy the spectators were for us today.”

From Izmir to Istanbul and from Ankara to their hometown of Erzurum, Team Turkey has a following in their home country and they know their win at world’s will be well-received back home.

“We are on TV and people will be watching on the internet and YouTube,” said Polat, a 31-year-old elementary school teacher. “The kids playing in Turkey will see us a role model for them.”

Turkey will play its final game of the tournament tonight at 7 p.m. against South Korea. The Turks will not advance to Saturday’s playoff round.

“I think we were unlucky earlier this week because I think three games were going to an extra end,” said Turkish coach Bilal Omer Cakir. “Today the atmosphere was fantastic and I want to thank the Canadian people. Our last match is against Korea and we want to win.”

In Friday’s morning draw, Canada improved to 8-3 and clinched a playoff spot with an 8-5 win over Germany. Denmark defeated Norway 11-4 and Switzerland finished off the round robin undefeated at 11-0 after an 1-3 victory over Japan.

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