Yilmaz relishing a return to France
ISTANBUL (2016 Rio Olympics) - Turkey national team legend Nevriye Yilmaz is ready to rewind the clock for inspiration when she leads her country into the 2016 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT).
When the announcement came that the competition would be held in the French city of Reze (Nantes), it went down well with the Galatasaray star.
We had a good tournament in France at EuroBasket Women 2013 when we finished on the podium in third place and so hopefully we can be successful there again. - Yilmaz
"The Olympics are the biggest stage in international sport and for the players who experienced London in 2012, we want nothing more than to make our country proud again. While for the younger players, they know this is a very special opportunity."
Turkey are busy ushering a new generation and Yilmaz is watching the torch being gradually handed over to those who will succeed her - as well as some other of her veteran team-mates. The 35-year-old was allowed to take a break from last November's EuroBasket Women 2017 Qualifiers, a tournament many feel she is unlikely to see, with Rio a potentially glorious swansong.
Central to those key decisions will be head coach Aziz Akkaya and he is hugely excited by what lies in wait during 2016. And, merely securing passage to what would only be a second-ever Olympic Games for his country isn't the limit of Turkey's ambitions or the measure of success.
"We have two EuroBasket Women 2017 qualifying games coming up next month against Romania and Israel and we see these games as critical steps on the path to Nantes, and eventually Rio," mused Akkaya.
"The Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament is short, intense, and fiercely competitive. We're going to benefit from the experience of our veterans and the energy of our younger players.
Our goal is not just to qualify for Rio, but to make a deep run in the tournament once we are there. - Akkaya
The 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament will take place from 13-19 June. The draw will take place at The House of Basketball, FIBA's headquarters, on Tuesday 26 January (18:30 CET/GMT +1) and can be watched live on youtube.com/fiba.