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© 2018 by the Cyprus Girls Can Team 

Age: 29

Lives: Nicosia

Sport: Running, Freediving and former Triathlete

Profession: Dietician

Clubs: Blu Freediving

3 Favourite Things: food, exercising, travelling

Fun fact:  i cannot stand the smell of clementines :)

emine uluçay mufazalova

mUlti sportswoman

Natalie: Hi Emine! It’s great to meet you! You seem to be involved in many sports, tell us about your sporting history!


Emine: Yes, I have always been sporty! I love being active, when I stop my body aches. I feel sluggish, I don’t feel like myself.

 

When I was young I used to do gymnastics. From the ages of 9 to 10, I learnt to swim in Cyprus. When our family moved to Italy for my Dad’s job, I used to love dancing on roller-skates! We would wear the glittery gymnastic costumes, it was great! I also tried basketball and volleyball as a child.

 

Later, I discovered that my passion was running, and I was a track athlete when I was younger. I used to train and compete in the 800m and 1500m distances, although as I got older I realised I was better suited for longer distances.

“Doing sports helps you know what your body is capable of, what you can achieve. You can transfer this knowledge to other areas of your life, beyond sport. It gives you confidence in other areas of life.”

Interview by Natalie Christopher

Edited by Christiana Nicolaides & Vaia Velli  

N: Wow! Are your family into sports?

E: Not so much now, although my Dad used to run 10k races and he loves football. My Mum used to run 400m and now has a mountain bike.

 

Mum would take my brother and I to sports clubs and trainings when we were growing up, which helped us stay committed.

 

N: How long have you been living in Cyprus?


E: My parents are Cypriot, but I was born in the UK. We moved to Italy for 5 years due to my Father’s work, before returning to Cyprus. We lived here from when I was 8 to 17 years old and then I moved back to the UK to study.

 

I spent two years at Kingston University, where I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition. I then transferred to London Metropolitan to study Nutrition and Dietetics. I returned to Cyprus in 2012.

N: How did you get into triathlons?

E: Once I was just sitting in my room in London, scrolling through Facebook. I saw a friend of mine doing something related to triathlon, with a coach called Cem Dağdelen. It looked interesting and I asked if I could join. When I came back to Cyprus for the summer holidays I contacted Cem, who I learnt had completed 11 Ironman Triathlon races! He asked me to do a 5km running test, which I did well at. From then on, I began training for triathlons with Cem and was training for seven years.

 

I raced intensely, I would travel to Turkey to compete. I was the age group champion in the 2015 Olympic distance. That was until I decided to stop a few months ago.

What is Triathlon?

A triathlon is a multisport race with three continuous and sequential endurance races. While variations exist, the most common form includes swimming, cycling and running over various distances. The athletes compete for fastest overall completion of the three races.
 

What is Ironman?

                                    

An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation, consisting of a 3.86 km swim, a 180.25 km bicycle ride and a marathon run: 42.2km , raced in that order and without a break.

It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.

 

Most Ironman events have a limited time of 16 or 17 hours to complete the race, course dependent. Any participant who manages to complete the triathlon within these time constraints is designated an Ironman.

 

*Wikipedia

2016 was the year that saw Cypriot women completing a full Ironman Distance triathlon for the first time! 

Melina Timson Katchis (Greek-Cypriot) in Challenge Roth in Germany

and Emine Ulucay (Turkish-Cypriot) in Barcelona!

N: How do you think men in sport perceive you?

E: They usually react in a ‘wow you are so tiny, how can you do such a long race?’ kind of way.

They say, ‘You look like a Barbie; how can you do an IronMan?’.

Or they differentiate you, saying ‘You’re a hardcore athlete’. But I don't think like that, I think I’m just someone who does sport. And I think that if I were a man, things would be different. For example, I was very open about training. I was sharing it on social media, which led a lot of people to learn about triathlon and completing an IronMan. Some men would comment ‘You’re different’.

 

Or when I’d go out with my male friends at bars they’d say, ‘Oh you’re not wearing heels because you’re an athlete’. No, I just don’t like them. I didn’t want to be the different one just because I do sports and I am a woman.


But, what is good I think, is that when you are as good as guys, they understand that women can be good. There were a lot of men I could keep up with. If I overtook a man in a race, they would come up and congratulate me at the end. That’s really nice.

"Freediving was something new. 

I wanted to challenge myself.

Plus, I always loved the sea."

N: So, how did you go from Triathlon to Freediving?

E: Freediving is something that has been in my life for a long time – my Husband had been Freediving for 5 years before I tried it and I wanted to experience the calmness.

When I was training for Triathlons, I was too busy and I didn’t have the chance to start Freediving. After I got injured, I decided it was the perfect time to try. The instructor Anvar Mufazalov went to Turkey to teach, so I followed. When I came back, I would Freedive once or twice a week. Then a school opened in August 2017, so it was a new challenge! I could do more diving.

So far, I have competed once, at the AIDA Competition in Limassol in October 2017.

I dove to 20 metres depth in the Constant Weight, Bi Fins category.

I completed a 2-year diploma on Sports Nutrition with the Olympic Committee online. For my Finishing Assignment, I decided to carry out research on Freediving, specifically about how fluid consumption affects performance. I did a case study which showed a clear link between concentration with dehydration.

WHAT IS FREE DIVING?


Freediving is a form of underwater diving that relies on breath-holding until resurfacing, rather than the use of breathing apparatus such as  scuba gear.

Besides the limits of breath-hold, immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure, free divers also have physiological effects that limit the depths and duration possible in Freediving.

Competitive Freediving is currently governed by two world associations: AIDA International and CMAS. It is an individual sport based on the best individual achievement. All  free-diving disciplines are equally open to men and women. The competitive disciplines can be part of a competition or of a record attempt. 
Depending on the discipline the athlete can use either a monofin or bi-fins or no fins at all. When fins are used, they must be powered only by the muscular power of the athlete, without use of any mechanism, even if the latter is activated by the muscles.

*Wikipedia

N: How does being a Dietician as a profession change how you see Sports in the world?

E: The average woman in Cyprus will have been to a Dietician. There are lots of people here who think exercise is something you do just when you want to lose weight. I want to help people see that Sport has so much more to offer.

As a Dietician, I visit outpatient clinics and all the time I hear ‘Summer is coming, I want to lose weight’. But, what I’ve seen in the last couple of months is that things are changing. People say, ‘I want to lose weight, but lose it slowly and lose it for good’.

I think now healthy is seen as the new 'sexy'.

My first session with a client lasts 45 minutes: I try to understand what they eat and what barriers they have to healthy eating. Is it budget, is it time, is it their lack of motivation? Once I figure that out, I try to come up with something that is familiar to them so that they can continue to do it.

E: Don’t see healthy eating and exercise as a means to lose weight, rather a lifestyle choice. A lot of my clients would have lost weight before and then put the weight back on. The biggest problem is that people want to see results there and then, they aren’t prepared to work for it. I tell them they should be patient and they should keep trying. Just because you don’t see results after one week doesn’t mean you should give up your attempt.

 

N: As a Dietician, what advice to do have for women in Cyprus ?

People in Cyprus have the postponing disease, we are a lazy nation.

 

My advice with Sport is:  just start!

 

There are people in other countries who train in snow, -30C!

 

Another piece of advice is to keep looking until you find the sport that you like. You should be open to the idea that you’d like running one month and swimming the next.

 

...

 

Join Cyprus Girls Can events to find the sport that's right for you! We host events in many different Sporting disciplines, in locations all over Cyprus!

 

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Triathlon Clubs in Cyprus

Alphabetically, by District - click for more information

Nicosia // Λευκωσία // Lefkoşa

Ares Spor Kulübü​

Aspava Spor Kulübü

Bikin Cyprus Club

Bro Triathlon Team

Keravnos - Athletic Club Strovolou

Nireas Triathlon Club

North Cyprus Triathlon

Tüfekçi Spor Kulübü

Larnaca // Λάρνακα // Larnaka

Nautical Club of Larnaca

​​

Limassol // Λεμεσός // Limasol

Famagusta Nautical Club (also in Nicosia)

K1 triathlon Club (Akrotiri)

Pafos // Πάφος // Baf

Paphos Nautical Club

Freediving Schools in Cyprus

Alphabetically, by District - click for more information

Kyrenia // Κερύvεια // Girne

Blu Freediving

Nicosia // Λευκωσία // Lefkoşa

Apnea Dynamics​

Infinity

Larnaca // Λάρνακα // Larnaka

Infinity​

Limassol // Λεμεσός // Limasol

Free2Dive

Famagusta // Αμμόχωστος // Gazimağusa

Apnea Dynamics​


NB As far as we are aware, there are no Triathlon Clubs in the Famagusta // Αμμόχωστος // Gazimağusa or Kyrenia // Κερύvεια // Girne Districts, or Freediving schools in Pafos // Πάφος // Baf.

Please let us know if we have missed out a Club!

N: What are your aims for the future?
E:  I’m enjoying having the freedom to try new things and be more flexible with my sport. I would really like to improve my Freediving, run an ultra marathon, something like a 60 to 70 km :)

Learning how to kite surf is definitely on my list too! Ah and yes, although very different from triathlon, I’m planning to improve in yoga this winter, and hopefully be a yoga instructor :)

 

Now I just run because I like it. It took me some time to accept that I’m not an athlete anymore and that I’m a “recreational” sports person.

For the last two years I’ve been practising vinyasa yoga. I alternate, one day running, one day yoga. I have two days off a week. Now I’m enjoying the flexibility of being able to schedule myself.”

Thank you so much for talking with Cyprus Girls Can Emine!
We wish you all the best of luck with your future sporting adventures!