A mere two miles from the competition hall for this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix, which will host Olympic and world champions, Antalya Yolspor Judo Club is nestled on the site of a construction company.

Antalya Yolspor is the pride and joy of club coach and founder Murat Reis Şengün.

While Antalya builds up for a mammoth Grand Prix at Spor Salonu, it was business as usual for Murat and his students who braved the unseasonal, rain-soaked conditions to be on the mat by 5pm.

Situated at the back of the site, the first thing that strikes you about Yolspor is the modest size of the building. This is not a slight on the club, but instead it’s a remarkable achievement the success they have enjoyed and the talent they had produced from such humble beginnings.

Ayse Oz (white judogi), 16, and Fatmanur Uyanik, 17

The group of young judoka, which are comprised mainly of girls - with the club being well-known for its conveyor belt of talent in the lighter women’s weight categories – start to warm up on their own accord.

Two girls immediately standout as they have a backpatch on their judogi with their surnames and their country code.

Ayse Oz, 16, and Fatmanur Uyanik, 17, compete at -44kg and -48kg respectively and regularly winning medals internationally.

“I’m excited that these champions and the IJF come to my city. We will attend the Grand Prix on Friday and we’ll be supporting the Turkish team.

“To see such an important event here in Antalya and near to our dojo is inspiring. I believe that if I keep working hard and stay focused then in the near future I will be able to compete for my country in a Grand Prix and hopefully here in Antalya.”

Coach Murat Reis Şengün, who is a 5th Dan black belt, said: “We’re very happy to have an IJF event here in Antalya and I’m looking to our club visit to the competition on Friday.

“We’re only a small club with a small dojo but we work very hard and we’re fortunate to have had good results and many good judoka.

“Our aim is to give everyone who walks into the dojo the skills and values to have a better life and to be a model citizen. Not everyone can be a champion. We are here to work with anyone who wants to try judo and together we can forget about the daily challenges of our lives and have fun and exercise on the tatami.

“Judo is a special sport with many wonderful people and I’m proud of what we have developed at our club and the people who have emerged from it. We have to meet many champions this weekend and then next week we’ll be back to working hard and mastering our craft with passion and commitment.”

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