World Champ speaks about World Championship
Başak Koç: As a sportsman who has many successes on motorcycle, when and how did you meet with bicycle?
Kenan Sofuğolu: We were three brothers. I was the youngest, therefore I had the old bicycles of my older brothers but finally they bought one bicycle for me. We hid it on the closet of my mother in the house in Akyazı. It was so precious that I waited for the end of school in summer to take my bicycle. I never forget, it was white and it had a red mud guard. As of my childhood, I always had motorcycle and bicycle in my life because my father first was repairing bicycles in Akyazı, which is district of Sakarya, then he repaired motorcycles. We had such a story. Therefore, we always had bicycles in our lives.
Başak KOÇ: Are there any roads in Sakarya which you enjoy riding bicycle?
Kenan Sofuoğlu: Sakarya is one of the exemplary cities of Turkey in this sense. We have bicycle roads with blue strips which increase slowly in many parts of the city and I can’t say that I saw this in many cities of Turkey but Sakarya makes investments in this subject. Both our previous mayor and current mayor give importance to this matter. As I see, Sakarya is one of the cities in which people use bicycle widely in Turkey. We rode bicycle with my three years old son in Cycling Valley track. While I was riding, I just thought “Our city has developed and become more beautiful” .A father who is interested in bicycle can take his son and use bicycle in a road closed to traffic in Cycling Valley. Also, there is a very beautiful track here. My son can make exercise in this track when he becomes more professional. Believe me, I say “I wish there were tracks in my youth and I could ride my bicycle in these tracks”. However, the young people are lucky to have such opportunities in Sakarya which is the city we live.
Başak Koç:You have represented our country in important organizations held in abroad, now similar organization shall be held in Sakarya, the city in which you born. What do you think of these types of organizations for the promotion of our city and country?
Kenan Sofuoğlu: This was one of my biggest dreams. I went all over the world for race in my own branch from America to Australia, from Malesia to Thailand. My dream was to race in my hometown Sakarya as well in Turkey. Once I had a race in Istanbul but I never had the chance to race in my home city. But today, although there is not a motorcycle in Sakarya, there shall be a World Championship in bicycle branch in Sakarya. It is very important to us to be a host in such a big organization. As a person who knows bicycle sports and one of the people among these sports, I got very excited when it is announced that 2020 Mountain Bicycle World Marathon Championship shall be held in Sakarya and I also got excited when I saw the advertisements in billboards of Sakarya. I congratulate everybody who has contributed to this. It is not easy to realize this. You cannot buy everything with money. The matter is not taking the World Championship by giving money, but is to make preparation of the organization and to convince the people organizing this Championship. We have security, accommodation and nice tracks in our city. The people from all over the world shall eat comfortably in Sakarya and the world press shall make their jobs with pleasure in Sakarya. It is not easy to provide this infrastructure. In this sense, our city has made a big investment. I can be a deputy now but as a sportsman who participated to the races all over the world, I congratulate everybody who has eﬀorts in this organization.
Başak Koç: By taking your identity of deputy as a basis, could you please mention about your supports and the work on the importance of bicycle and widening the usage of the bicycle in the matter of state politics?
Kenan Sofuoğlu: I am a new deputy but I had a plan before I became a deputy. My dream was to develop a project that shall contribute to the development of all other sport branches except football in Turkey. The most important problem of the sportsmen except football is not to find sponsors. The same situation is also valid in bicycle sports and other sport branches, too today. I thought we need to make a big and rooted change and I completed all necessary researches. I mentioned about this in Turkish Grand National Assembly. Sports is not in its deserved location in our country, sports is not just football, other sport branches should develop and grow. We need a law amendment related with this. Especially we must start a law change which shall encourage private sector for being sponsors. If we achieve this, all sportsmen and teams shall have the opportunity to find sponsors. We discussed this with Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Sports but the studies shall take time because this subject also includes taxes. I mentioned the problem as a person who had these problems as a sportsman during my sports life, I hope the changes shall be made and Turkish sportsmen and the teams in Turkey shall find sponsors more easily.
Başak Koç: Did you have the chance to ride bicycle in bicycle track in Cycling Valley, what do you think of this track?
Kenan Sofuoğlu: Cycling Valley has become a park in which the people can enjoy their weekends with their family. It is important to have such places for the city residents. It is no needed to go to indoor malls for weekend, we need such places like this for making sports peacefully. We show eﬀort for understanding the bicycle culture in our country. I am a person who want to increase the usage of the bicycle because my wife is Netherlander and Netherland is one of the greatest country in the matter of bicycle. When we consider the life quality and health of the people, a Netherlander woman who is 80 years old can even use bicycle. Therefore, our people shall use bicycle for giving value to this culture and become healthy.
Başak Koç: You had made a track due to need in Sakarya in the past. Today, a similar track was built in Sakarya. What do you think of the importance of such tracks where the young sportsmen can exercise in terms of the development of sportsmen of future?
Kenan Sofuoğlu: I have constructed a motorcycle track in Akyazı, it was smaller than this cycling valley. While I was preparing to motorcycle races, I was exercising there. All sportsmen of mine were exercising in the same track and they still exercise there. It was a track which was built to keep our condition well.
Başak Koç: 2020 UCI Mountain Bicycle Marathon World Champion shall be held in Sakarya. As a World Champion, what do you want to say about this world champion which shall be held for the first time in Turkey?
Kenan Sofuoğlu: I went to races in many countries. Tracks were great in some countries but the environment was below expectations. Therefore, a year later, these cities lost their rights to organize world championships. We all must give importance to these organizations. Thanks to World Championship, people all over the world shall come to Sakarya. Sakarya will be known by all world and the factors such as our hosting and the beauty of our city shall contribute to be given the similar organizations to our country in next years. As Sakarya, if we give importance to this organization, we shall have big achievements for our country and our city. We must satisfy everybody who comes to Sakarya. We shall work together, we shall fill this place and we shall host everyone in a such a manner that everybody shall talk about Sakarya all over the world.
MP Kenan Sofuoğlu who is famous in motor sports told his city Sakarya, his first bicycle and his endless bicycle passion.
"It is very important for us to host such an organization. As a person who knows the sport of cycling and comes inside of this sport, I was really excited when it was announced that the 2020 Mountain Bike World Marathon Championship will be held in Sakarya".