Getting to know our athletes – Ceren ÖZÇELIK

Over the forthcoming weeks, PVE will be giving the spotlight to the key figures on the court: the players themselves.

Each paravolley athlete boasts a unique story to share. Through a series of interviews, we will have the opportunity to gain deeper insight into the experiences of some of Europe’s most distinguished paravolley athletes, as they guide us through their personal journey in the sport, expressing their passion for the game along the way.

After talking to Thibault Lefrancois from France, Francesca Bosio from Italy, Mirzet Duran from Bosnia Herzegovina, Lena Gabršček from Slovenia, Robert Wydera from Poland, it’s time to go to Türkiye to meet Ceren Özçelik!

How and why Ceren turned to the sport, why did she prefer come back to the court instead of sitting stuck at home, and what are the aims she and her teammates from the Turkish national team have, read on in the interview below. 

What was your first experience of sports, and sitting volleyball in particular? 

I was playing volleyball for five years before I became an amputee. I continued playing volleyball even when the accident happened. At first, I was very afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do it. That’s why I first participated in swimming competitions, but swimming didn’t make me happy. I wanted to play volleyball again so I switched to paravolley and when I first sat on the ground I felt like I was doing a very different sport. But with time passing, I got used to it and I knew I would never give up this sport again. 

What made you decide to become a sitting volleyball athlete? 

Since I was doing sports before the accident, I wanted to start doing sports again. Doing sports was my purpose in life because it gave me peace. Instead of staying stuck at home again, doing sports made me happy, and that’s how I turned to doing the sport I love. 

When did you begin playing in ParaVolley Europe competitions, and what do you remember from your first competition? 

I just joined sitting volleyball. That’s why I only had the chance to participate in a European competition once, but it went very well for me. We had a long journey and competed very well in the matches. My teammates and I worked hard to deliver our best game, and it was a great experience for us. 

What is your personal experience of sports as a professional para-athlete, and what does it mean to you? 

Being a professional athlete means being able to train regularly. Professional athletes usually work out with multiple schedules, but since paravolley is not that common in our country, we do not have regular trainings for now. We do this sport because we love it and we enjoy doing it. Playing can be quite tiring sometimes, but there are times when we don’t feel that tired because we are happy to play. We generally cannot train in our cities. That’s why we want camps to be established as soon as possible. Paravolley has now become a source of life for us, and I never want to take it out of my life. 

What would you say is your biggest achievement? 

Our team is a very newly established team. We participated in the European Championship only with a few trainings on our records. Despite this, we fought very well. Of course, there were ups and downs, like every team, but what I was proud of was competing with a great team. That’s why our goal is to achieve a better ranking in 2024. 

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