BALIKESİR - Doğan News Agency

Turkish painter Elif Çimen, who was recently awarded the gold medal by the Beijing Olympics Fine Arts Organization, calls it the most meaningful award of her life.
Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Çimen said it was a great honor for her that her work, �Circles & Cycles,� was awarded a gold medal. Saying this medal is the biggest and the most prestigious award she has ever won, she noted that the competition, which aims to bring sports and art together during the Olympics, was officially held for the first time this year. �It is a great honor to me that I was the only artist invited from Turkey and won the first award out of 300 artists from 80 countries. I am very pleased to represent Balıkesir and my country.�
Çimen has won many international awards. �The Olympic organization committee called for me to paint. The topics were �Sports and Olympics' and �China and the World.' I had never been to China before but inspired by the decrease in bicycle use after the drop of automobile prices in the country and the fact that automobiles cause pollution, I chose 'bicycle' as my topic. For me, it stands for sports, socialism, environmentalism and economy. My work is acrylic on canvas. It features bicycles parked on the streets rather than cars. The wheels of the bicycles symbolize the rings and colors of Olympics. After finishing it, I sent my painting to the organization.�
Çimen said she learned she had won the award two weeks before the ceremony. �I explained the situation to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It was a big surprise that the ministry covered the cost of my flight. I would otherwise have missed the chance to receive the most meaningful award of my life.�
After being presented with her gold medal and a certificate signed by International Olympic Committee, or IOC, President, Jacques Rogge, Çimen returned to the Marmara city of Balıkesir, where she works as an assistant professor in the fine arts faculty at Balıkesir University.
Çimen's work will be on display at the Culture Palace and Gu Gong (Forbidden City) in Beijing through the end of September.