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Countdown to #Karate1Rabat: Five burning questions heading into anticipated Karate 1-Premier League event

2019-04-12

From karatekas on top form dominating the competition to new names taking the spotlight, from unexpected surprises to heart-breaking moments, the 2019 Karate 1-Premier League has offered plenty of intrigue and excitement so far. The third stop of the season is taking place in less than one week in Rabat (Morocco); as the spectacular event approaches, a slew of questions appears on the horizon of the Karate world. 

1. Will Rabat see another episode of the Shimizu-Sanchez duel? 

All three Karate’s major international events this year have had a similar outcome in Female Kata: Kiyou Shimizu of Japan and Sandra Sanchez of Spain fighting for gold. The two biggest names of the category have engaged in a thrilling battle for the domination of the competition with the Spanish Kata queen taking two golds and the Japanese two-time World champion winning one event. Sanchez prevailed in the Karate 1-Premier League Dubai and the Karate 1-Series A Salzburg while Shimizu succeeded in Karate 1-Premier League Paris. 

The Karate 1-Premier League Rabat will be another showdown of the two competitors who have met in the final of six of the last ten major international events. Other top karatekas such as recently-proclaimed European Championships runner-up Viviana Bottaro of Italy, new Pan American champion Maria Dimitrova of the Dominican Republic and promising Dilara Eltemur of Turkey among others will try to surprise the top favourites. 

2. Will Serap Ozcelik win a third consecutive gold? 

Turkey’s Serap Ozcelik is - together with France’s Gwendoline Philippe and Steven Dacosta, and Japan’s Ryo Kiyuna - one of the competitors who managed to take a clean sheet of victories in this season of Karate 1-Premier League. The Turkish star who is also the current Grand Winners of Female Kumite -50kg will arrive in Rabat as the top favourite to take gold.   

While Ozcelik failed to retain the continental title less than a month ago, the Turkish Karate Star hopes to go back to winning ways in Rabat. Silver medallists Miho Miyahara of Japan and Ukraine’s Kateryna Kriva, and new continental champion Sophia Bouderbane of France will be among the competitors trying to take the crown in the category. 

3. Will Grand Winners take a stand in Rabat? 

After the first two events, the defending Grand Winners have captured the attention of fans with impressive victories. Serap Ozcelik of Turkey, Gwendoline Philippe and Steven Dacosta of France and Ryo Kiyuna of Japan are all Grand Winners taking two golds this year, while Sandra Sanchez of Spain, Ayumi Uekusa of Japan and Ugur Aktas of Turkey have managed to claim one triumph. 

The eyes will be set on Alizee Agier of France, Eray Samdan of Turkey, Rafael Aghayev of Azerbaijan and Jonathan Horne of Germany, all of them Grand Winners who are yet to take the top of the podium in Premier League. Also, the event in Rabat will see how Grand Winner Sara Cardin of Italy makes her Karate 1-Premier League debut this year after recovering from an injury. 

4. Who will be the new names taking the competition by storm? 

As the quest to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 intensifies, Karate’s first-class series of international events is putting the focus on some promising competitors who are using the Karate 1-Premier League as a launching pad to capture all the attention of the sport. 

While not exactly a “new kid on the block”, Japan’s Ken Nishimura is one of the competitors elbowing his way up in the competitive Karate world. With one gold this year (In Paris) to complete the four medals he got last season, the 23-year-old karateka is surprising with his effective fighting system. 

With the European Games going to Belarus later this year, all the eyes of the Karate world in the country are set on Anton Isakau. The 23-year-old karateka has won his first title in international events this year when he prevailed in Paris. Isakau went to win silver at the European Championships last month and is presenting his candidacy to rule Male Kumite -84kg. 

France’s Mehdi Filali at only 19-years-old, Kazakhstan’s Didar Amirali (23-years-old), and 22-year-old Clio Ferracuti of Italy are among the young karatekas who had made it to the finals at the Karate 1-Premier League events this year. 

5. Will the campaign to request Karate’s inclusion in Paris 2024 continue in Rabat? 

The answer is yes. The Karate world gave a demonstration of unity at the EKF European Championships in Guadalajara (Spain) last month as a special ceremony took place there with all 500 karatekas taking a stand to defend Karate’s wishes to be included in the programme of Paris 2024. Some of the best athletes in the world also showed their support to the WKF campaign by taking the #TsukiForKarate2024 challenge. 

With hundreds of Karate fans from all over the world still sending the pictures and videos to request the inclusion of the sport in the programme of Paris 2024, the Karate 1-Premier League Rabat is expected to continue the movement with several actions to be held throughout the weekend. The Karate world will go on with the fight. 

The Karate 1-Premier League Rabat will take place from April 19 to 21. The final day of action will be streamed LIVE on karateworld.tv 

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