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Favourites show power at AKF Championships in Astana


Frontrunners and rising karatekas shocked on the first day of the senior competition at the Asian Karate Championships being held in Astana (Kazakhstan). After the Cadet, Junior and U21 tournament that crowned Japanese and Iranian karatekas, it was the moment of the best Asian athletes in senior categories to take the spotlight. 

World champion Ryo Kiyuna produced an impressive performance in Male Kata competition and dominated all his bouts to qualify for the final of the tournament. One of the biggest Kata athletes of today’s Karate, Kiyuna prevailed to reach the title-deciding clash in which the defending world champion will meet Indonesia’s Zigi Zaresta Yuda. The Indonesian athlete surprised with his first final in a major senior competition.


Japan’s Emiri Iwamoto extended the traditional dominance of the birth nation of the sport in Kata categories and made it to the final of the Female competition. The Japanese karateka aims at her first gold in international tournament and she will face Indonesia’s Sisilia Ora in the final. 

The Female Kumite -50kg will also see a confrontation of Japan vs Indonesia for the gold as Ayaka Tadano and Sari Sukatendel Srunita qualified for the final bout. 

In Female Kumite -55kg, Chinese Taipei Tzu-Yun Wen confirmed her favourite status and reached the final in an impressive demonstration of top form. On the other side of the tatami the second placed in the World ranking will clash against Japan’s Fumika Ishiai in her first final in international competition. 


Also favourite Xiaoyan Xin of China qualified for the final of Female Kumite -61kg where she will fight against Hong-Kong’s Wan Yu Choi, while fellow Chinese Lingling Tang showcased the progress of Karate in the country by getting the Chinese flag to the final of Female Kumite -68kg. Japan’s frontrunner Kayo Someya will be her rival in the title-deciding bout. 

In Female Kumite +68kg Ayumi Uekusa of Japan continued her demonstration of top Karate and the world champion aims at her third gold medal this season after presenting an outstanding performance in Astana. Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Hong Anh will try to shock the top favourite. 

Local fans will put their attention on Male Kumite -55kg and on Male Kumite 67kg as host representatives Andrey Aktauov and Rinat Sagandykov qualified for the finals. Their rivals will be Iran’s Majid Hassanniadeilami and Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Alkhathami respectively. Kazakh karateka Daniyar Yuldashev also made it to the final in Male Kumite -84kg, with Japan’s Masaya Ishikuza as his rival. 


One of the highlights of the last day of competition in Astana will be the final of Male Kumite -60kg. In this thrilling bout, defending world champion Amir Mehdizadeh will clash against the biggest rising figure of today’s karate, Uzbekistan Sadriddin Saymatov. The Iranian ace aims at winning his second consecutive continental title after his victory in 2015 thus earning back-to-back world and Asian titles. Meanwhile, young Saymatov hopes to continue surprising in international Karate. At only 19 years-old, the 2016 Asian Cadet, Junior & U21 champion has won three golds in three Karate 1-Premier League tournaments this year (Paris, Rotterdam and Dubai) thus producing a record-breaking performance in the first-class Karate event. 

The confrontation world champion vs rising star will also take the spotlight in Male Kumite +84kg. Current world title-holder Sajad Ganjzadeh will try to extend his impressive tally of golds as the top favourite will meet promising karateka Tareg Hamedi of Saudi Arabia. The young Saudi competitor just claimed gold at the WKF Karate 1 Youth Cup two weeks ago and hopes to get his first continental gold in senior competition after prevailing at the Cadet, Junior & U21 Championships in 2016. 

Chinese Tapei’s Wei-Chun Hsu and Iran’s Bahman Asgari Ghoncheh will complete the clash for gold in Male Kumite -75kg. 

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