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Japan show power as thrilling Karate 1-Premier League campaign comes to an end


Japan topped the medal table of the Karate 1-Premier League in Halle/Leipzig (Germany) this weekend as the representatives of the Asian country dominated the event in the German city. The tournament that gathered a record-breaking number of participants put an end to the Karate 1-Premier League season and crowned rising names in international Karate. 

Japanese karatekas demonstrated their authority at the biggest Karate stage and claimed no less than five gold medals. Ryo Kiyuna headed the outpour of medals for the Japanese delegation after prevailing in Male Kata category. The current World Champion defeated fellow teammate Issei Shimbaba in the final by a convincing 5-0, so to earn his impressive tenth consecutive gold medal in international competitions. 

The Female Kata category also saw an all-Japan final as Emiri Iwamoto narrowly edged fellow Japanese Hikaru Ono (3-2) in the bout for gold. The prevalence of Japan in the category of choreographed movements has been so outstanding in Halle/Leipzig that seven out of the eight medals at stake in individual Kata competition went to the hands of athletes of the birth nation of the sport. 


Japan’s successful day also continued in Kumite. And in the category of “grappling hands”, Japan have one of the most dominating competitors. Ayumi Uekusa won her fifth gold in international competitions this year after defeating China’s Mengmeng Gao by 1-0 in the final of Female Kumite +68kg

Ayumi Uekusa’s superiority is so remarkable that the 25-year-old karateka is the current World and Asian Champion, the defending gold medallist at The World Games and newly proclaimed 2017 Grand Winner. 

Meanwhile, Hiroto Gomyo also got gold after beating Brazil’s Vinicius Figueira in Male Kumite -67kg in a roller-coaster of final bout that ended 5-3 for the Japanese karateka. It is the first gold medal in the first final for the young athlete. 

Kayo Someya used her greater experience to defeat Miroslava Kopunova of Slovakia in Female Kumite -68kg. It was a narrow victory for the current Asian Champion, as Someya got the bout and the title by “Senshu”, and the last of the gold medals for Japan.


It was a day to remember for Ukraine’s Anzhelika Terliuga. The 25-year-old karateka not only won gold in Halle/Leipzig but was also proclaimed 2017 Grand Winner. The European Championships bronze medallist defeated Turkey’s Tuba Yakan in the final of Female Kumite -55kg in a tight bout (2-0) and wrapped up an impressive tournament. 

Ukraine’s rising star demonstration of abilities was even more remarkable considering that Terliuga received the Grand Winner award for her consistent season. With two gold medals in Karate 1-Premier League this year, Terliuga becomes one of the names to watch in the category. 


Italy’s Luigi Busa confirmed his star status with a flashing victory in Male Kumite -75kg. The defending European Champion defeated Uzbekistan’s Dastonbek Otabolave by 3-1 in a bout in which the Italian karateka had to come back from behind to overcome his young rival. 

It is the first gold in the event in over two years for Busa who reached the top of the podium of Karate 1-Premier League for the last time in the tournament of Sharm El Sheikh in 2015. 


The pattern that has shaken international Karate over the last months continued in Halle/Leipzig. The promising figures of the sport demonstrated their rising level by upsetting favourites and taking the spotlight of the event. 

That was the case of Russia’s Egveny Plakhutin in Male Kumite -60kg. The 23-year-old karateka defeated two-time World champion Douglas Brose of Brazil in a convincing showdown of competitive Karate (6-2) thus preventing Karate Star Brose from winning his first medal in Karate 1-Premier League this year. 

Two young karatekas met in the final of Female Kumite -61kg so the gold further confirmed the increasing weight of rising competitors in international Karate. Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Ngoan beat Canada’s Haya Jumaa and won gold in her second appearance in Karate 1-Premier League. 


German Karate fans had reasons to celebrate since the host country won six medals. Shara Hubrich took the flag of the organising nation to the top of the podium in Female Kumite -50kg after defeating Japan’s Miho Miyahara in the final. The 20-year-old German karateka beat top favourite Miyahara, who had won gold in Paris this year, with a 4-1 victory in the bout. 

Jana Bitsch in Female Kumite -55kg, Johana Kneer in Female Kumite -68kg, Noah Bitsch in Male Kumite -75kg and the Female Kata Team, all of them with bronze medals, and Jonathan Horne with silver in Male Kumite +84kg complete the list of medallist of the host country. 


In the category of Male Kumite -84kg, the newcomer could not surprise the favourite. The current World Championships runner-up Aykham Mamayev of Azerbaijan used his experience to beat Russia’s Alexander Aliev by a convincing 6-0 so to win his third gold in Karate 1-Premier League. 


The final of Male Kumite +84kg saw how Georgia’s Gogita Arkania prevented hosts from taking another gold. Much to the disappointment of local fans, the 2014 World champion beat Germany’s Jonathan Horne by a slim 1-0. The gold in the closing event of 2017 Karate 1-Premier League is the first top award that the 33-year-old karateka wins after his victory in the World Championships three years ago. 

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