Athlete from Tamil Nadu witnesses ‘strangely quiet' Turkey amid coup attempt

Chennai's Priyadarshini is among 20 students from Tamil Nadu to be part of the Indian contingent for the 'School Olympics'.

July 16, 2016 12:01 pm | Updated September 18, 2016 02:05 pm IST - Chennai

The phone rang shrilly beside Priyadarshini Suresh, waking her up startled from her bunk bed in the games village in Trabzon, Turkey. She was hoping to get a good night's sleep before she was to participate in the triple jump athletics event at the World School Games, but that was interrupted by >an attempted coup .

Her parents made the call, telling her to stay within the village and stay safe. Until then completely in the dark about the attempt by a section of the Turkish military to seize control of the state, the 16-year-old athlete quickly went on the web to figure out what had happened.

Priyadarshini, of DAV school in Mogappair, is among the 20 students from Tamil Nadu to be part of the Indian contingent for the event more popularly known as 'School Olympics'. They had landed in Turkey on Monday night, going from Istanbul to Ankara, and had a rather pleasant time at Trabzon.

"In fact, here you cannot tell of a coup has taken place. It's 8.30 a.m. and people are going about their tasks, getting to work. Earlier in the morning, it was strangely quiet, but things seem to have settled down now."

Speaking on phone to The Hindu , the Chennai-based girl says they have been asked to stay within the games village itself until the conclusion of the event (on July 18) and not venture out. An announcement on the board mentions the coup attempt.

While not overtly concerned yet about their situation, Priyadarshini says she hears that the airports have been closed down. But she has two more days to go, things should settle down by then, and there is an event to be won.

Our sports correspondent S. Dipak Raghav adds:

The attempted coup in Turkey late Friday night has created an uncertain situation for nearly 200 school kids from the country. The students from India including 20 from Tamil Nadu are currently in the Turkish city of Trabzon representing the country in the World School Athletic Championship. The meet started on July 11, 2016 and was scheduled to conclude on July 18.

The Hindu spoke to the parent of long-jumper J. Bubeshwar from Chennai. His father Jayakumar said he had spoken to his son and the situation in Trabzon is under control. “The whole Indian contingent is staying in an university campus in the games village. I spoke to my son and they are safe. There seems to be not much of an issue there. Another student Priya also has spoken to her parents.”

The contingent was expected to reach New Delhi on the early hours of July 19 and with two days of the meet still left, there is little clarity on whether the events will go ahead as scheduled.

The team’s original schedule was to leave on Monday from Trabzon to the capital city of Ankara and then head to Istanbul to take the flight to India.

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