Irem Yaman: “Mental strength is really important in Taekwondo”
The Turkish Taekwondo superstar, member of Team Daedo, won her second world title in Manchester on Sunday
Yaman’s race to the gold medal at Manchester 2019 WC
Yaman, one of the featured fighters of Team Daedo, didn’t perform at her highest level until the big final of the division. In the first round of the event, she tried not to make too many mistakes and only let Ameni Layouni from Tunisia score 1 points throught the match, beating the African by 9-1.
In the last 16 clash, Yaman was also able to establish a security distance with her opponent, Feruza Sadıkova, getting rid of the Uzbek by a clear 28-9.
It was time for the medal fight, the Quarter-finals, where most of the athletes feel the pressure when they are supposed to be in the podium. Irem met a really dangerous fighter in the last 8, Zongshi Luo, her rival at Wuxi 2018 Grand Slam semi-finals. The Turkish outscored the Asian there comfortably, 24-6, but in Manchester the story was completely different. Yaman wasn’t able to edge Luo until the last 3 seconds of the combat thanks to a punch, she had secured the medal and was now able to show her best Taekwondo.
In the semi-final, she met another old friend, Magda Wiet-Henin from France, and the match turned into another thriller which needed the extra period to define the winner and finalist. It was Yaman who handled better the pressure and scored the winning action in the sudden death.
In the gold medal fight, Irem seemed to be where she pictured herself before the event started, showing all her skills and dominating the fight against the outsider of the draw, Caroline Santos from Brazil, who couldn’t sop Yaman’s attacks for the final 21-7 win.
Interview at Manchester Arena before the World Championships
World and European champion Iream Yaman from Turkey talks to WTM hours before making her debut at the Manchester 2019 World Taekwondo Championships to express her thoughts on the competition and Taekwondo in general.
Do you see yourself fighting for the gold medal?
I am very excited to participate in this event, in 2015 I won the gold medal in Chelyabinks, but in 2017 in Muju I didn’t do se well. After that, I won medals at the Grand Slam and in some Grand Prix, but there is no comparison with the world championships, this is my dream.
You’ve been here at Manchester Arena for some days now. What do you think about it?
The stadium is huge and beautiful, it is really exciting to be here, really nice to watch the rest of the competitions also. My division is on Sunday and I will give my best.
What is your opinion on the performance of the Turkish team?
The female team is very strong and the male team can also do very well here. We have some young talent coming, but the most important thing is that we truly are a team and we cheer and support each other.
Have you changed anything in your preparation after the Muju 2017 blow?
In 2017 I finished the competition really sad, I felt down, so after that I started to use psychological help apart from my normal training. Mental strenght is really important in Taekwondo. Now I think I am really in a stronger mental condition.
You’ve become a social icon in Turkey. How do you handle it?
When you do relevant things in sport, this things can happen. I like to be in that position, I enjoy exposition, on TV, on social media, and I also think it is relly good for Taekwondo, for the sport. After all this happened, I continued to do well in Taekwondo, so I am ok with it.
Which are the main players to watch in Women’s -62 kg?
I have many tough rivals in this competition. Look at Muju 2017, you never know what is going to happen, you have to be ready for every situation possible. Also, the atmosphere at the world championships is different, is special, and the pressure is higher.
What does the Olympic gold medal mean for you?
The Olympic title is my dream since I was a child, I have been working very hard to be in a position to compete for that gold medal and I hope one day this will come true.
Our fans are wondering what you like the most about Manchester?
We’ve been here several times for different competitions, but I am usually so focused in the competition that I haven’t had the time to visit too much. I will try next time if I have the time.
The also want to know what you eat during the competition days
I just follow my diet, which consists of eating the minimum carbohydrate needed before the fights and maximum proteins, and the other way around after the competition, nothing special for this event.
What would you say it’s been the key for your success?
Above all thing, always believe in myself.