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16.02.2017 16:58 News >> Athletes Praise Turkey-Hosted Youth Olympics

Athletes Praise Turkey-Hosted Youth Olympics

The European Youth Olympic Festival being held in the eastern city of Erzurum has hosted around 650 athletes from 34 countries since it opened last week.

For many of the teenage competitors it is their first experience of Turkey, which is overseen by the International Olympic Committee.

"I won a gold medal in the men's 10K biathlon run," French skier Thomas Briffaz told Anadolu Agency. "I am very excited because this is my first gold. The organization and tracks are very good. I love Turkey."

His teammate Jason Drezet, who took silver in the same competition, added: "The tracks and Erzurum are very beautiful."

The city, which sits more than 5,700 feet (1,700 meters) above sea level, had been due to host the 2019 winter games but agreed to move forward two years when Bosnian sports officials in Sarajevo said they would have trouble getting venues ready.

"The organization is very good, the number of participants is very good and the stands are full," Ekin Saygi, a 16-year-old Turkish figure-skater, said. "It has been very well organized in Turkey. Thanks everyone."

Maria Vaikou, the trainer of the Greek girls' cross country skiing team, added: "The facilities, the organization and the fields we compete in are extremely good.

"Our athletes loved the organization, the food and the other activities. We loved the Turkish food."

The week-long EYOF2017 festival, which caters for 14- to 18-year-old athletes, ends on Saturday.

Seyfettin Azizoglu, the governor of Erzurum, said: "We have special sports facilities and we are proud of that… Thanks to EYOF2017, our children are also prepared for the Olympics. Our children have gained international experience by having the opportunity to compete with other teams and athletes."

He added: "When Bosnia and Herzegovina gave its turn to us, we make ready Erzurum for the organization within a year. This is a really big success. We have felt that some of our guests were hesitant about coming to Erzurum.

"Now everybody is glad to have come here." -



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