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HeForShe Turkey Celebrates An Olympic Champion's Journey Empowered by a Father's Support

HeForhe Turkey Fathers Day

Fenerbahçe Sports Club javelin-thrower Eda Tuğsuz, 26, has represented Türkiye at many international competitions. She was ranked fourth in the world at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and holds Türkiye’s women’s javelin record, with a throw of 67.21 meters. She attributes her success to the unlimited support and attention her father has given her since childhood, without gender discrimination.

Reflecting on her journey, Tuğsuz acknowledges the pivotal role her father played in shaping her career as a professional athlete. Recalling her childhood, she reveals how her inherent physical strength and boundless energy caught the attention of her teachers, leading her uncle Ecevit and his friend, national javelin athlete Fatih Avan, to recommend her for the javelin branch and, subsequently, the national team at the tender age of 15. Tuğsuz expresses her deep gratitude to both her parents, a lorry driver, and a housewife, for their steadfast support from the outset of her sporting ambitions.

“The role that my beloved father has played in my international success is huge. He is my rock. He always has my back and supports me. There hasn't been a single moment that I've felt my father doubt me and my goals, which has made my stance in life strong. Having a strong supporter like my father is a unique opportunity in life, not only for someone becoming a professional athlete but for all girls in the world who want to go above and beyond limits.”

During her childhood, her father laid the foundation for an egalitarian future by dedicating equal time and attention to both Eda and her brother. Tuğsuz recognizes the significance of the physical activities her father engaged in with her and the time they spent together as a family, attributing her accomplishments in sports to these formative experiences.

“In my childhood, by dedicating equal time to my brother and I, my father also laid the foundations for an equal future. In our family, there was never such a thing as ‘fathers play with their sons; mothers spend time with their daughters’. When I look at the heights I’ve reached in sports, I see how important the physical activities that my father did with me were and the time we spent all together with my brother.”

“Over time, I became a champion. However, to know that I am a champion regardless of fulfilling any criteria in the eyes of my father is the most precious thing in the world. Above all else, knowing that my father will support me in all circumstances fuels my self-confidence.”

She emphasizes the pivotal role fathers play as role models for their daughters, stressing that while mothers exemplify strength and self-sufficiency, paternal support feels like a gateway to endless opportunities in life. When fathers encourage their daughters to participate in sports from an early age, just as they do with their sons, the likelihood of girls continuing in these sports significantly increases. Fathers should create an environment where their daughters can explore diverse fields and realize their full potential, irrespective of gender differences. Moreover, they should instill in their daughters the belief that they lack nothing—neither physiologically nor psychologically—and can achieve anything they set their minds to. This is the profound impact Eda Tuğsuz's father had on her life.

“My father is my greatest love, so Father's Day is more than just a day for me. I set my sights on the top of the world to make my father proud. I believed that with his hand on my back and his support, I could achieve anything. I congratulate all fathers who always support their children, regardless of whether they are girls or boys, and I want to say: the door to success and happiness opens with the wings of freedom our fathers give us."

Eda Tuğsuz participated in the workshop "Combating discrimination and violence against women and girls in sports," carried out in collaboration with Fenerbahçe Sports Club and the HeForShe Türkiye Movement. Fenerbahçe Sports Club has been working to advance gender equality in and through sports by joining forces with UN Women’s HeForShe Movement with the support of Tüpraş since 2018.

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