Espinho, Portugal, July 8, 2018 – Murat Giginoglu is a regular on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. On the Tour since 2010 with different partners, his face has become emblematic of Turkish beach volleyball.
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“I started playing beach volleyball on the Pro Beach Tour in Turkey, but just during the summer,” Murat goes down memory lane just after he and his current teammate Volkan Gogtepe finished their participation in the Espinho four-star in Portugal, losing to eventual finalists Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs of Latvia. “After the Turkish Volleyball Federation started planning to have us try to qualify for the Olympics, I stopped playing indoor and devoted entirely to beach volleyball.”
With a delightful typically southern easy-going attitude, Murat calmly accepts their defeat in the second elimination round.
“We had a good tournament here at Espinho. The ninth place finish is good for us,” he sums it up and looks forward. “We have another hard week coming up, as we are starting from the qualifications at the Gstaad five-star. After that we are going to the European Championship in the Netherlands.”
Giginoglu and Gogtepe got back together just several weeks ago after a break of about two years.
“When Volkan had his second baby, his wife asked him to stop with beach volleyball, because it was difficult for her to take care of two babies alone. So he took a two-year break,” Murat explains the reason. “But he loves beach volleyball, his life is beach volleyball, he missed it a lot and now he is back. We are going to try to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The federation is sponsoring us to keep going to all the tournaments, so we can collect those precious points. While Volkan was away, we took in some young guys to try them out, but it is difficult finding a partner to play at such a high level.”
Murat and Volkan had only one World Tour medal from before the break - bronze at the Lucerne Open in 2015. Giginoglu also claimed one World Tour bronze medal in partnership with Hasan Mermer – bronze at the Aalsmeer one-star in October. Since he and Gogtepe reunited a couple of months ago, they quickly added one more podium finish to their collection – silver at the Alanya one-star in early June, one of the many tournaments the Turkish federation organizes in the country.
Giginoglu and Gogtepe celebrate silver at Alanya
“Our federation likes beach volleyball and takes good care of our sport. The people in the country also like beach volleyball a lot, so they enjoy watching the many tournaments Turkey is hosting,” Murat says. “For us, the players, it is great that we can play at home, in front of our own fans. It also helps us a lot in getting wild cards to play in the tournaments.”
Just last week, Giginoglu and Gogtepe represented Turkey at the Mediterranean Games in Spain in the best possible way, winning gold and reaching the top of the podium.
In late March, Murat was also part of the team, alongside Hasan Mermer, that represented his country at the first ever Snow Volleyball European Championship in Austria.
“Snow volleyball is crazy!” he exclaims with a smile. “This is a different sport. Everybody likes it, but for beach volleyball players it is hard. Our federation sent us to play at the European Championship, but it was very difficult.”
Murat Giginoglu at the inaugural Snow Volleyball European Championship
Just like most players on the World Tour, 30-year-old Murat is dreaming of Tokyo. He is quite confident that he can be the Turkish delight in Olympic beach volleyball as well.
“I love beach volleyball and I will try to play beach volleyball at the Olympics. We will fight for it and I believe that we can achieve it,” he says in conclusion.
Spectacular dive by Murat Giginoglu