Host Nation Turkey Dominates the Pool at the Islamic Solidarity Games

Islamic Solidarity Games

The fifth edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games was originally supposed to take place in 2021, four years after the last Games in 2017. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic pushing the Olympic Games to 2021, the Islamic Solidarity Games were delayed until this year.

36 countries participated in the pool swimming competition, with Turkey sending the largest delegation of 36 athletes.

Final Medal Table

Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
Turkey 29 26 11 66
Kazakhstan 4 1 7 12
Uzbekistan 2 5 5 12
Algeria 2 1 0 3
Azerbaijan 1 1 1 3
Kuwait 1 1 0 2
Kyrgyzstan 1 0 2 3
Indonesia 0 2 12 14
Sudan 0 1 1 2
Cameroon 0 1 0 1
Uganda 0 1 0 1
Iran 0 0 1 1

Turkey dominated their home Games, winning over half of the 120 total medals on offer. They also won 29 golds, which is 25 more golds than Kazakhstan, which had the second highest gold medal count. That’s 9 more medals than they won in 2017, where they topped the medal table with 57 total.

The perfect example of Turkey’s dominance at the meet came on night 1, when they won six of the seven golds on offer in the session.

On the other end of the spectrum, both Algeria and Indonesia fell down the standings. In 2017, Algeria finished second in the standings with 5 golds and 10 total medals. This year, they only won 3 medals total. A big part of that is due to the absence of Souad Cherouati, who swept the 400, 800, and 1500 freestyle at the last Games, but doesn’t seem to have raced since the Tokyo Olympics. Likewise, Indonesia also won less than half the medals they won at the previous Games. This year, they won 14 total, 2 silver and 12 bronze. In 2017, they won 33 total with 3 gold, 17 silver, and 13 bronze.

Record Highlights

The championship record book was rewritten; over the five day meet, 19 Games records were broken. Additionally, there were 17 new national records set. With so many records falling, let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

The Iranian men set nine new national records, including resetting all three relay records by wide margins. The team of Sina Gholampour, Samyar Abdoli, Ahreza Yavari Foroushani, and Matin Sohran lowered the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay record by 3.66 seconds, touching in 3:22.46 to take down the mark of 3:26.12 that had stood since 2018. Foroushani was a part of the 2018 relay team, and he made a huge improvement, swimming 49.92 to cut 1.33 seconds off his split. 

In addition to leading off the record-setting 4×100 medley relay, Abolfazl Sam broke both the 100 and 200 backstroke records. In the 100, he touched in 56.42, bringing the record under 57 seconds for the first time. He smashed the previous record, getting way under the 57.74 that Jamal Chavoshifar set in 2016. In the 200, he roared to a 2:04.91, breaking the old record of 2:06.81 that had stood since 2014.

Uzbekistan also set a new national record in the men’s 4×100 medley relay. Aleksey Taransenko, Vladislav Mustafin, Eldorbeck Usmonov, and Khurshidion Tursunov posted 3:40.43, breaking the previous time by 1.90 seconds. They were off the pace at the 200m mark, but Usmonov split 53.12 on fly and Tursunov 48.62 on free to surge past the record line on the back half.

On the women’s side, Kirabo Namutebi set her first Ugandan record in the 50 breaststroke. She swam 33.81, finishing fourth. That time cuts .81 seconds off the previous record, which had stood since the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Additionally, it’s the first Ugandan record set by a woman since the 2019 African Games.

Top Swimmers of the Meet


Emre Sakci and Yigit Aslan played huge roles in Turkey’s medal count. Sakci is primarily known as a sprint breaststroker as he holds the SCM 50 breast world record and indeed, he won the 50 breaststroke in a Games record of 27.36. But he also won the 50 freestyle, and bronze in both the 100 free and 100 breaststroke. He was also part of Turkey’s winning 4×100 free relay, which set another Games record.

Aslan also set two Games records, one in the 400 freestyle (3:52.98) and as a part of the men’s 4×200 free relay, where he split 1:52.23. He also earned silver medals in the 800 and 1500 freestyle, bringing his medal count to 4, one behind Sakci’s 5.

Jaouad Syoud continued his strong season; at the Arab Championships, he won five events, setting an Algerian record in the 200 breast. In Turkey, the 22-year-old followed that up by sweeping the men’s IMs. Though he was a bit off what he went at the Arab Games in July, he still set a Games record in the men’s 200 IM, clocking 2:00.91.

Uzbekistan’s Aleksey Tarasenko has been having a good season as well, setting lifetime bests in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle. He was just off those times here, winning gold in the 100 free in 49.54, just a few tenths off the national record of 49.35 that he set in Budapest. He also earned silver in the 200 free, and bronze in the 50 free. After competing in the NCAA at the University of Iowa for three seasons, Tarasenko transferred to Tennessee for his senior year and will be using his fifth-year of eligibility in the 2022-23 season.


Turkey controlled the women’s podiums, winning all but two events: 50 breaststroke and 50 butterfly. It’s tough to pick highlights from that level of dominance, but there are three who stand out.

First, Merve Tuncel continued her rise on the international scene. Earlier this summer, she swept the 400, 800, and 1500 free at the European Junior Championships. Two days before the start of the Games, the 17-year-old was at the European Championships, winning bronze in the 800 freestyle. In Rome, she swam 8:24.33, four seconds faster than she went to win at Euro Juniors.

At these Games, she once again swept the 400, 800, and 1500 freestyle, and added the 200 free as well. She set new Games Records in all those races. She was in a race against the clock for all four races, distancing herself from the rest of the field. This was most evident in the 800 free, where she won in 8:40.14, six and a half seconds ahead of second place Deniz Ertan. She also won gold as part of the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle relays. In the latter, she was slower than the 2:02.09 she went to win the individual race, but still put up the fastest split in the field at 2:04.89.

Also winning all her golds in Games record time was Ekaterina Avramova, who swept the three backstroke events. She won each event handily, though she was off her best times. She holds the national records in all three events as well. Here, she won by over a second in the 100 back, touching in 1:01.47.

Ertan is the third Turkish woman that we’re highlighting here. Unlike Tuncel and Avramova, she did not win every event she raced. However, she came away with a huge medal haul and showed off her versatility. Individually, she earned silver in the 800 and 1500 freestyles and gold in the 100 butterfly and 400 IM.

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3 months ago

Alireza Yavari* not ahreza

3 months ago

I cannot believe Turkiye decided to attend the Islamic games instead of Europeans which were being held at the same time. This is a brilliant display of how the government and the associated swim federation is doing everything they can to isolate the country from Europe and regress back to Ottoman Era ideology. Sport is part of a country’s cultural identity and deciding to attend Islamic games instead of Euros is Unbeleivable.

Reply to  King
3 months ago

At least send your best swimmers to Euros and the reserve team to Islamic games

Reply to  King
3 months ago

they also decided to focus on Mediterranean Games instead of World Champs

Last edited 3 months ago by fred
Reply to  King
3 months ago


Reply to  Bat
3 months ago

I promise you those Turkish guys are not chicken. They are at the mercy of the federation not their own wills.

Reply to  King
3 months ago

My daughter swims for the Turkish Swim Federation. Get your facts together King. Turkiye sent Defent Coskun, Deniz Ertan, Duru Tanriverdi, and Merve Tuncel to Italy. I don’t remember seeing a list for those selected for World. Short course world qualifications were revised and I’m sure there is a selection list.
You may not know that the exchange rate in Turkey is very bad. It makes sense for the TYF to include more in Country meets. The Mediterranean/Comen cup has long been a favorite of the TYF…it isn’t something new.
These young Turkish ladies are outstanding swimmers and lovely young ladies too. So are the men. Yigit Aslan trains with the same coach and at the same pool… Read more »

Scuncan Dott
Reply to  King
3 months ago

They attended both didn’t they?

Reply to  Scuncan Dott
3 months ago

At least 1 person from Turkey was at the EC. Merve Tuncel won a bronze in the 800.

Reply to  King
3 months ago

I don’t know the internal politics of the Turkish Olympic movement but wouldn’t be surprised if their swimming federation cherry picked a few international meets that would give them better odds for being able to tell their parent OC that they were having excellent results in international competition.

Go Kamminga Go
Reply to  King
3 months ago

I mean, I don’t blame them.

For decades,Turkey has applied to become member of EU, but has never been accepted. Meanwhile it took other countries (eastern Europe, Balkan) a short period of application and accepted.

Last edited 3 months ago by Go Kamminga Go

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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