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World Cup Season Kicks Off in Antalya

In a few weeks, the 2020 World Cup season will begin with a tournament in Antalya, Turkey. Not a bad moment to take a look at the World Cup history of the country that once had just one superstar (Semih Sayginer) and can now easily point to a dozen players who are world class.

From 1993 to 1996, there was a World Cup in Istanbul every year. The winners: Sang Chun Lee, Jaspers, Blomdahl and again Blomdahl. The remarkable thing in these years was, that Raymond Ceulemans was the losing finalist three years in a row! Istanbul has now hosted a World Cup eight times.

In 1997 the organization found a new home, in Antalya. If we count the nearby cities of Goynük and Kemer, Antalya had nine World Cups in total. In 1998, Semih Sayginer became the first Turkish winner of a WC on home soil, when he beat Dutchman Gerwin Valentijn in the final.

A single 2001 World Cup took place in Kusadasi, where Jaspers won the final against Sánchez. Then the event moved back to Istanbul in 2005 and 2006, both times with Blomdahl the winner. The 2007 Turkish edition took place in Manisa, again Blomdahl winning, Sánchez second.

2009 and 2010 were in Antalya, and two unexpected names appeared on the trophy: Martin Horn and Kyung Roul Kim. The losing finalist: Jaspers both times. 2011 was in Trabzon, where Merckx took the gold, beating Kyung Roul Kim.

Antalya once again hosted in 2012 and 2013, with Sung Won Choi and Blomdahl winning. Blomdahl is easily the most successful player on Turkish ground, with seven victories. Jaspers follows, with four wins.

A remarkable World Cup was played in Istanbul in 2014. Three Korean players were on the podium: Jae Ho Cho the winner, Sung Won Choi silver, Merckx and Kyung Roul Kim sharing the bronze. Only Belgium and the Netherlands have also had three players on a World Cup rostrum. The following event in 2015 in Istanbul was won by home player Murat Naci Coklu.

Bursa hosted the 2016 and 2017 events, won by Jaspers and Caudron. The Belgian would win again in Antalya in 2018. Tayfun Tasdemir became the third Turk to win in Turkey, when he beat Jae Ho Cho in the 2019 final in Antalya.

The 2020 Antalya tournament (17 – 23 February) will be the 23d World Cup in Turkey.