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Grand Winners Sandra Sanchez and Damian Quintero secure Triple Crown as Karate 1-Premier League concludes in Dubai

2018-02-18

Spain’s Sandra Sanchez and Damian Quintero claimed the Triple Crown in Dubai as the two Grand Winners clinched their third straight gold at the Karate 1-Premier League event being held this weekend in the Emirate City. The second stop of the season of Karate’s first-class series of international events drew to a conclusion in Dubai on Sunday. In addition to the Spanish kata aces, Grand Winners Serap Ozcelik, Xiaoyan Yin and Ayumi Uekusa were among the big winners of the thrilling tournament. 

Grand Winner Sandra Sanchez delivered an impressive performance against Hong Kong’s Mo Sheung Grace Lau in the Female Kata final, emerging the winner by unanimous decision 5-0. The World ranking leader from Spain performed a brilliant ‘Papporen’ kata to win her 24th straight medal in international competitions. 

“I am especially thrilled by this gold because since the start of this year we can see that the competition is getting harder and harder. I feel very proud because reaching this podium has a special meaning for me. I just hope that my (medal) streak continues!” said Sanchez.

It is the third time that the European champion takes the top of the podium in Dubai thus showcasing the domination of the Kata category in the events hosted in the Emirate city by the Spanish karateka. 

“Dubai is like a second home to me. Everything started for me here. A few years ago, in 2014, when I was not in the national team, I came to the Dubai Open on my own. Then, I got noticed and I started getting capped for the national team. Since then, I started having opportunities to participate at the highest level. So, it is very special for me to come back here and take gold,” said Sanchez. 

DAMIAN QUINTERO SHOCKS WORLD CHAMPION KIYUNA

Damian Quintero followed his team-mate’s success and produced the big upset of the day. In the re-edition of the final of the last World Championships, the Spanish Grand Winner took revenge and defeated world title-holder Ryo Kiyuna of Japan. The World ranking leader and current World Championships runner-up executed a brilliant ‘Suparinpei’ kata to win the bout by split decision 3-2. 

“I think I made a good kata. I focused on myself, not on my opponent and I just wanted to enjoy being on top of the tatami. I am very pleased with this victory. Obviously, he is Kiyuna the world champion, but I take him as one more rival as we have a long way ahead of us”, said Quintero. 

Damian Quintero together with Sandra Sanchez is the only competitor who had managed to win three times in Dubai. “I think I should buy a house here in Dubai because it seems that people really like me here!” joked Quintero. 

“The important thing for me is to continue the progress ahead of the big goals we have this year, the European Championships, and, of course, the World Championships in Madrid,” added the Spanish Kata ace. 

GRAND WINNERS PREVAIL IN DUBAI 

It was also time to shine for the Grand Winners in Female Kumite categories. The current owner of the “Best of the Best” award in Female Kumite -50kg, Serap Ozcelik defeated Eirin-Christina Kavakopoulou of Greece in the final to reach the top of the podium for the first time this year. The Turkish Grand Winner connected an ‘Ippon’ to claim her first gold medal in Karate 1-Premier League in over two years. 

“I am so happy because this is my first gold this year. The next tournaments are going to be even harder because everyone is giving their best, they all are preparing more and more to compete. Of course, I will keep on working hard as well”, said Ozcelik. 

Grand Winner Xiaoyan Yin followed suit in Female Kumite -61kg and claimed her second gold this year after beating Jovana Prekovic of Serbia by a slim ‘yuko’ (1-0). The Chinese Grand Winner had prevailed in the Karate 1-Premier League Paris barely a month ago, and managed to continue on top form in Dubai, thus extending her fantastic start of the season. 

The third gold for the Grand Winners in Female Kumite was claimed by Japan’s Ayumi Uekusa. The Grand Winner in Female Kumite +68kg defeated Anne Laure Florentin of France in the final and excelled in offensive Karate to claim her first gold this year. The current world champion took no less than six yukos to recover from an early elimination in Paris so to regain her impressive form. 

“In Paris I lost in my first match but here I tried to improve my performance. I fought to get the right mental condition and the best physical condition to be able to fight for gold. At the end, I could win the tournament and that makes me very happy,” said Uekusa. 

Meanwhile, superstar Rafael Aghayev demonstrated to have returned to his trade-mark top form and added the gold medal in Dubai to the silver he got in Paris. The five-time world champion bounced back from the surprising defeat in the final of the inaugural event of the season, and overpowered Gabor Harspataki of Hungary in the title-deciding bout of Male Kumite -75kg. The Karate Star from Azerbaijan connected an impressive ‘Ippon’ and then two ‘Yukos’ to get his first gold in Karate 1-Premier League in nearly a year. 

Italy’s Sara Cardin’s impressive 3-1 victory in Female Kumite -55kg over Germany’s Jana Bitsch; France’s Alizee Agier outstanding 5-0 triumph over Halyna Melnyk of Ukraine in Female Kumite -68kg and Turkey’s Eray Samdan 2-1 victory in Male Kumite -60kg were other of the highlights of the thrilling day. 

France’s Marvin Garin in Male Kumite -67kg, Egypt’s Ahmed Elmasry in Male Kumite -84kg and Enes Erkan of Turkey in Male Kumite +84kg also enjoyed success in Dubai. 

Turkey topped the medal table with seven awards, including three golds. The Karate 1-Premier League will now travel to Rotterdam (Netherlands) for the third stop of the first-class Karate events which will be held from March 16-18. 

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