Recovering from an injury, national wrestler Rıza Kayaalp is training for April's European championship where he hopes to win his ninth top title. The 29-year-old athlete has been suffering from a nagging injury for the past three years but still managed to win the 2018 championship, equalizing the record of former Greco-Roman wrestling great Hamza Yerlikaya.
Speaking to reporters in the northwestern city of Bursa where he is training with the national team, Kayaalp said he is ready to "show his full capacity" in the upcoming tournament in Romania. "This will be a better year for me," he said, noting that his next goal after Romania is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. "The injury was seriously affecting my performance but now I can wrestle without rest for 40 minutes. I feel like I've been born again," he said.
The European championship is an opportunity for Kayaalp to punch a ticket to Tokyo, with the top five of the tournament getting spots in the Olympics.