She is 22 years old. She was bronze medallist in the 2013 World Championships and twice in the 2014 and 2016 Europeans. He is 23. He was World champion in 2013 and finished 3rd in 2015. Rabia and Tahir Gulec have been trained together to Taekwondo by their uncle in his Nuremberg Academy.
In the aftermath of their elder sister, Sumeyye, who was European champion in 2008 and 3rd at the 2005 and 2011 Worlds, they will represent Germany and their family in the Rio Olympics.
Rabia qualified in the continental tournament held last January. She is not the favourite in the -67 kg category, French Haby Niare, Swedish Johansson, Taipei Chuang, Turkish Tutur… seem to be ahead of her. But her 3rd place in the last Europeans in May proves that she can skillfully get on the podium.
On his side, Tahir, ranks 9th in the world (ex n°6) with, in his category, top guns like Aaron Cook (3 fights, 2 defeats for the German), Iranian Khodabakhshi, the running world n°1 (1 defeat for Thair in the 2015 World’s ½ final), Ivoirian Cisse, Russian Gaun and British Muhammad… What a program ! But Tahir already succeed in taking care of these in the 2013 Worlds…
Rabia and Tahir would not be able to support each other at Rio. They fight on the same day, on August 19th. Two Olympic medals on the same day for the same family, it would be quite awesome !
« She will always be the n°1 for me »
If you have to present each other, what would you say ?
Rabia : My brother was World champion in 2013 and he qualified for Rio. I like his Taekwondo. He is a very good fighter. He has some special tactics and always score with head shots. What can he improve ? Nothing, he is superb (she laughs).
Tahir : My sister is one of the best female fighter in Taekwondo. She also qualified for the Olympics. That’s great ! That’s an awesome feeling. I am proud of her. She is a fantastic fighter. She will show us in Rio, I hope. If she wants and will, she can do everything, but sometimes… That’s why she loses. She can beat every girls but only if she wants. She must believe more in herself.
What would like to say to each other ?
Rabia : I wish him always the best. I hope that he will get a medal in Rio. I wish it all the time, no matter where he fights, but more particularly this time because this is the Olympics.
Tahir : Whether she loses or wins, she will always be the number 1 for me.
What does Taekwondo represent for you ?
Rabia : It’s a sport but, for us, it’s more than that, it’s our family. Taekwondo is part of our life. We started when we were babies.
« I am tough with her »
Do you coach each other ?
Rabia : I don’t, but Tahir coaches me sometimes.
Tahir : What I tell her… On 1st round, I watch how she fights and how her opponents fight. Then, I give her some good tactics and she does it. I think I am a good coach (he laughs). I have a good eye for coaching.
It’s harder to coach your own sister than any other people. It’s your family, it’s your blood, it’s your sister. You want everybody to win when you coach, but your sister must win, because she is your family. It’s another feeling. I am tough with her, of course.
Who do you fear the most in Rio ? Yourself ?
Rabia : I can’t realize yet what the Olympics are. If I think of Rio, my head burns (she smiles). But we will see. I think I can make it, I can make my dream comes true. I just have to believe in myself.
Tahir : There are many good fighters registered for the Rio’s tournament, many, many. Everybody wants to be the n°1 but it will be really hard. That’s why we must train stronger than the others. As everybody thinks the same, I hope it will be our day.
« I like to train with Tahir »
What do the Olympic Games represent for you ?
Tahir : Pfouhhh… It was my dream. I was 1st in the Junior Olympic Games. The Olympics is the biggest competition for Taekwondo athletes and I am proud that we qualified to the Rio Olympic Games. That’s fantastic. I cannot explain…
Do you train together ?
Rabia : When we are in Nuremberg, to our uncle’s Academy, it often happens. But it’s a little bit hard for me (she laughs). Even if Tahir doesn’t fight with me 100%, it’s so hard for me. He is long, he is strong. But I like it. It’s good for my Taekwondo.
I also train with my little brother. I like to fight with boys because they fight differently. They are more explosive. If one kicks me, I want to kick him 2 times more. It’s really funny.
Besides Taekwondo, what do you like to do ?
Rabia : I enjoy spending time with my family, if I am at home. I like to go chill with friends when I have time.
Tahir : I love soccer. I am a Besiktas Istanbul fan. I play soccer but I also like going around with my friends, get a drink, sit, enjoy our time, go to cinema with them… But Taekwondo is our lifestyle. We cannot live without Taekwondo. It’s not possible !