Olympics-Archery-Success is in a smile for Turkey's golden Gazoz

·2 min read
Olympics: Archery-July 31

By Ece Toksabay

TOKYO (Reuters) - Turkey's newest Olympic gold medallist Mete Gazoz has a weapon even more deadly than his archer's bow - a beaming smile.

The 22-year-old claimed Turkey's first gold at these Tokyo Games last weekend by winning the individual men's title, before revealing his unusual superpower.

"Imagine you're in the Olympic final, drawing your bow and some dude behind you is grinning from ear to ear. I owe 80% of this medal to the smile," he told Reuters, a large gold medal around his slender neck.

Gazoz's gold was a Turkish first in archery, a sport where fierce concentration is the watchword and South Koreans usually monopolise the titles.

"At this level, there is virtually no difference between archers in terms of technical abilities," he explained. "It all comes down to mental durability and superiority.

"All athletes employ different tactics. Some like to shout, some like to wait until the end of the allowed time and keep their rival on the edge.

"Mine is being happy, showing how comfortable I am."

On Saturday, Gazoz faced Italy's former team Olympic champion Mauro Nespoli in the final, unleashing his secret weapon to triumph 6-4 and become the only non-South Korean archery champion at the Tokyo Games.

"I was waiting for my turn behind my rival and I was just so happy. The gold medal is coming, I know, and I can't hide it," he laughed.

Slim-framed and bespectacled with a noticeable stammer when he talks, Gazoz stands out in an Olympic Village packed with muscle-bound swimmers and track athletes.

The 22-year-old, who was "born into" the sport as the son of a national champion archer, concedes that he is normally quite a nervous person.

"Not when I have the bowstring in my hand," he grinned. "That is my happy place in life. It's where I feel safest."

(Editing by Ossian Shine)