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Historic day for Karate Stars at #EuroKarate2018

2018-05-10

Sandra Sanchez and Damian Quintero of Spain and representatives of Azerbaijan became the big heroes of the first day of action at the 2018 Karate Senior European Championships being held in Novi Sad (Serbia). The Spanish karatekas are on a quest to make history at the continental stage by attempting to extend their domination of the kata categories, while Azerbaijani athletes were among the karatekas prevailing today by taking spots in the finals. 

Three-time European Champion Sandra Sanchez of Spain took the fast lane to her fourth consecutive continental crown with a demonstration of excellence in kata. The current Grand Winner prevailed in the tournament and won all her four bouts by unanimous decision, including the 5-0 victory over Dorota Balciarova of Slovakia in semi-finals. 

“I live each one of these moments as if it was the first time. I am very thrilled that I got the chance to be in a final again and I just can’t wait for Saturday to come. It will be the same final as last year and I think it will be even harder. Viviana (Bottaro) is a great competitor, very experienced and I am sure that the bout will be a great match to watch,” declared Sanchez. 

Italy’s Viviana Bottaro will try to produce the big upset of the tournament and aims at stopping the winning streak of the Spanish kata ace. The current European Championships silver medallist from Italy also hopes to get back at Sanchez after her defeat over the Spanish Kata queen in the final last year. This time, the Italian 30-year-old karateka is on top form as demonstrated in her quest to the final. The sixth-placed athlete on WKF Ranking also won all her bouts by unanimous decision. In one of the highlights of the day, Bottaro beat current bronze medallist Dilara Eltemur of Turkey by 5-0. 

DAMIAN QUINTERO’S LEGEND CONTINUES 

In Male Kata, Damian Quintero of Spain continues on a path to become one of the most awarded kata karatekas in Europe. The current Grand Winner qualified for his 20th medal in European Championships, counting individual and team competition after ruling the tournamente here in Novi Sad. The four-time continental title-holder beat all his rivals by 5-0 to make it to the final. The Spanish kata ace who is –funnily enough - nicknamed “KingTero”  defeated current bronze medallist Mattia Busato of Italy 5-0 in one of the top moments of the day. 

“It was difficult for me because I did not have much time to recover in my last two bouts, which were against two strong rivals but I am very happy for this final. I think I have been improving throughout the competition and now I am ready to try to win the title again. It would be my fifth crown and they are saying that I can make history for Spain. We’ll see but for sure that I will do my best,” said Quintero. 

Ali Sofuoglu of Turkey aims at shaking the competition and producing a renovation of the category of choreographed movements. The 22-year-old confirmed his status of promising kata ace after reaching his second consecutive final at Karate’s biggest continental stage. Sofuoglu also won all his bouts by 5-0 including the semi-final against promising Roman Heydarov of Azerbaijan. 

“I am so happy that I reached my second final. I am working very hard, with the Olympic dream in mind, and I really want to become European champion. I will try a new and more powerful kata in the final, and I hope this will be my first step towards my Olympic career,” said Sofuoglu. 

AZERBAIJAN SHOW POWER IN NOVI SAD

Representatives of Azerbaijan also took the spotlight in day 01 of Karate action from Novi Sad, as the Eastern European country finished the day with three options to get gold at the event. Shahin Atamov reached his second final at the European Championships after presenting a forceful demonstration in the Male Kumite +84kg category. The current bronze medallist closed his four bouts with a total count of 7-4 and defeated Spain’s Babacar Seck Sakho to be in the final. His rival in the title-deciding bout will be Ivan Klepic of Bosnia Herzegovina. The promising Bosnian karateka surprised and beat former world champion Gogita Arkania of Georgia (2-1) to reach the bout for gold. 

The second option for the top of the podium for Azerbaijan came with Irina Zaretska. The current Grand Winner continued performing at a great level and finished the day with a tally of 11-0 in five bouts, including an impressive 7-0 victory over Angela Mojsovska of FYR of Macedonia in semi-finals of Female Kumite -68kg

“I am very happy because it is my first final at the European Championships and it makes me even happier considering that I just returned from an injury. It is my second tournament this season, and the second time that I make it to the final this year. I will give all my best in the final,” said Irina Zaretska. 

Zaretska will meet in the final with Elena Quirici of Switzerland. The 24-year-old Swiss karateka reached her third final in four years and will fight to re-take the continental title which she won in 2016. Quirici defeated Silvia Semeraro of Italy in semi-finals by ‘Senshu’.

Superstar Rafael Aghayev completed the list of finalists for Azerbaijan. The ten-time European Champion found the way to continue making history for the sport and got another opportunity to reach the final podium for a record-breaking eleventh time. The five-time World champion edged Luigi Busa of Italy in the semi-finals of Male Kumite -75kg in one of the most anticipated moments of the day. Aghayev will clash for gold against Gabor Harspataki of Hungary who shocked with his victory over Grand Winner Stanislav Horuna in semi-finals. The 22-year-old karateka beat fan-favourite Horuna 3-0. 

BURAK UYGUR AIMS AT SECOND CONSECUTIVE GOLD

Turkey’s Burak Uygur also became one of the big names of the day. The current European champion in Male Kumite -67kg found the opportunity to get back-to-back victories at the continental stage, as the 23-year-old karateka confirmed his status of rising star with his qualification to his second consecutive final following his triumph last year at home. Uygur edged Yves Martial Tadissi of Hungary by Hantei in semi-finals and will clash for the title against Stefan Joksic of Serbia. The Serbian karateka gave hosts reasons to celebrate with his impressive qualification to the final 5-2 over Stefan Pokorny of Austria. The Serbian Karate fans at the sports hall celebrated the victory of his representative in what will be one of the most anticipated moments of Saturday’s session. 

Anne Laure Florentin of France is in a similar situation as Burak Uygur since the current title-holder of Female Kumite +68kg repeated participation in the final. The two-time European champion wrapped-up an outstanding performance in Novi Sad and made it to the final with a tally of 7-2 in four bouts. The French karateka will clash for gold against Eleni Chatziliadou of Greece. 

The fruitful day for French athletes was confirmed when Lucie Ignace made it to the final of Female Kumite -61kg. The karateka from Reunion displayed efficiency and finished the day with 10-4 in four bouts including a 2-0 victory over Turkey’s Merve Coban in semi-finals. On the other side of the tatami, the current European Championships silver medallist will clash against Ukraine’s Anita Serogina. The Ukrainian karateka, who got bronze last year defeated Bettina Alstadsaether of Norway 3-0 to make it to the final. 

The list of finalists of the day was completed with the bout Ivan Kvesic (Croatia) vs Michele Martina (Italy) in Male Kumite -84kg, and Ukraine’s Anzhelika Terliuga vs Alesandra Hasani of Croatia in Female Kumite -55kg. Emil Pavlov of FYR of Macedonia will clash against Italy’s Angelo Crescezo in Male Kumite -60kg while Bettina Plank of Austria upset favourites to reach the final of Female Kumite -50kg where she will meet with Serap Ozcelik of Turkey. 

Action will continue on day 2 of #EuroKarate2018. The second day of competition from Novi Sad will be focused on team categories. It will also see the debut – for the first time in European Championships  – of the Para-Karate competition.

The bronze medal bouts and finals are scheduled for Saturday, 12th and Sunday, 13th. The two final days of action from Novi Sad will be streamed LIVE and FREE on karateworld.tv.   

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