Istanbul, Feb 4 (efe-epa).- An Olympic pool on the outskirts of Istanbul provides a training hub for Turkish swimmers whose sights are firmly set on competing at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games this year.
Three of the six competitors set to travel to Japan train at the pool alongside around 20 other swimmers with different degrees of disabilities.
One of those on the team sheet is Elif Ildem, 25, who from a young age has lived with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a genetic condition characterized by the progressive deterioration of muscle tissue.
Save for the odd dip in the sea on holidays, Ildem didn’t start swimming seriously until he was 20 after doctors recommended it. “I wanted to feel free and my ability to move increases when I’m in the water, and that makes me happy,” he tells epa-efe.
“I started swimming at the Istanbul municipal sports complexes and later my teachers recommended I take part in competitions. After performing well in the Turkish championships, I joined the national team and in 2017 I took part in my first world championship in Mexico, where I made it to the final.” EFE-EPA