Turkish medalist says gymnastics is like his other passion – ridding the world of landmines

Posted at 4:18 PM, Aug 05, 2021

Ferhat Arican, who took Turkey's first ever medal in gymnastics with a bronze at Tokyo 2020, says his sport is a bit like clearing landmines. And he should know.

The two-time Olympian, who has taken part in the United Nations Development Program's social media campaigns on mine clearance, hopes his success will bring more attention to social issues.

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"Gymnastics is a very difficult discipline that requires the utmost concentration, dedication, balance and orientation," he told Reuters. "It takes years to learn how to do a move, and you only have seconds to demonstrate your years of work. There is no room for error. On the other hand, there are occupations where your first error is your last one. I always think about those who dedicate their lives to demining operations. They are so similar in terms of need for perfection, yet so different."

Arican was drawn to the issue out of his own interest, and not because of any personal loss or family issue, according to an official at Turkey's Olympic committee.

There were at least 5,554 casualties from mines or explosive remnants of war in 2019, with civilians accounting for 80% of those, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Children represented more than 40 percent of all civilian casualties.

Arican, who struck gold on the parallel bars at this year's European Championships shortly after testing positive for COVID-19, also uses a metal water bottle to draw attention to the use of plastics and global warming.