Emine Akbingöl won the hearts when she completed almost an entire race barefoot and won the gold medal. The 19-year-old Turkish athlete wants to build up on her unprecedented accomplishment now in European Athletics U20 Championships in Boras, Sweden next week.
The young athlete who hails from Varto, a small town in eastern province of Muş, pursues rigorous training in the city where she also attends a sports college. Akbingöl made the headlines in February at the women's U20 3,500-meter relay in European Champion Clubs Cup when she lost her shoe when a rival accidentally stepped on her foot. Undaunted, she completed the remaining 3,300 meters barefoot and grabbed the gold medal. It was her fourth gold in international tournaments and she wants to win the fifth in Sweden. Under the watchful eye of her trainers, she runs 20 kilometers every day to achieve her next goal.
A participant of athletics events since the age of 12, she made it to the national team in 2015 and she says she owes her success to a strict training regimen. "I am not training on the track only. Muş has a high altitude and I train on the mountains too," she told Anadolu Agency (AA). "I participated in three European championships early in my career and failed to reach the top three but I never gave up," she added. Her next goal after the event in Sweden is the 2024 Olympics.