PARIS, France (Sept 2, 2023) - It has been a year to remember for Turkish Taekwondo so far and Merve Dincel ensured that continued here at the Paris 2023 World Taekwondo Grand Prix.
The young athlete came into Paris in excellent form having won gold at the World Championships in Baku, where she also picked up the women’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
Speaking with her after her gold medal performance, Dincel is confident and to the point, just as she is on the mat.
“I deserved it” she says reflecting on her latest Grand Prix gold. It is a statement which is hard to contest when you consider she did not drop a single round on her way to top of the podium.
Dincel faced Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Adriana Cerezo Iglesias in the final of the women -49kg. The two fighters are very familiar with each other. This year alone they have faced each other at the European Games, at the World Championships, and at the Belgian Open. In two out of those three occasions it was Dincel who came out on top which gave her confidence ahead of the final here in Paris.
“We know each other. But she is so smart and strategic. She changes her skills and so I change mine,” Dincel says of her Spanish competitor.
Those change of skills were clear during Dincel’s matches as she seamlessly merged aggressive attack with patient defence. “It is just strategy,” Dincel says. But as everyone knows, developing a strategy is one thing but executing it is quite another.
Right now, it feels not much can go wrong for Dincel and she seems to be peaking just at the right time with Paris 2024 on the horizon. Olympic glory is clearly a key driver for the ambitious fighter.
“I am hungry for Olympic victory,” she says. My coach [Servet Tazegül] is an Olympic Champion and I want to be an Olympic gold medallist too.”
Of course, there are no guarantees in sport and especially not in Taekwondo which is famously unpredictable. But for Dincel if she can take her current form into her debut Olympic Games she will definitely be in contention to win; something she backs herself to do.
“I am the best one now. I know all my competitors. I am so confident about winning.”