Zehra Döşüçukur was unwilling to take up taekwondo, but she was pushed by her trainer father only to become a martial arts champion in 12 years. The young woman of 22 is now training to add a world title to her records with next month's Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade in Italy.
The Universiade is a platform for university students who are also professional athletes to prove their mettle. Döşüçukur is studying to be a physical education teacher in Gaziantep, a southern Turkish city.
"I want to represent my country best and hear our national anthem recited there at the medal ceremony," said the young player who boasts eight top Turkish titles. Apart from those, she won a bronze in a top European competition in 2015. Under the watchful eye of her father Veysel, a former taekwondo fighter now training young athletes, Zehra pursues a strict training program. She wants to follow in the footsteps of her father though she admits taekwondo was not her ideal sport at first.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), she said she was reluctant at first but then her father insisted on her taking up the sport, "Now I think I made the right call. Taekwondo gave me many things. I was an introvert and it helped me overcome my shyness. I have traveled to a lot of countries and met new people. I have better self-confidence now. Taekwondo also teaches you self-defense too, besides for being a sport," she says about the benefits of taking up the sport. "It is not easy. I have to watch what I eat and have a very intense training schedule. I have my father on my side to help me, support me in training," she added.