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New champions amaze as thrilling Karate competition concludes at Minsk 2019


The spectacular Karate competition at the 2019 European Games finished today in Minsk (Belarus) with a thrilling final day of action. Bettina Plank of Austria, Ivet Goranova of Bulgaria, Anita Serogina and Stanislav Horuna of Ukraine, Kalvis Kalnins of Latvia, and Luca Maresca of Italy were the big winners today as they took the last gold medals at stake.   

Austria’s Bettina Plank produced one of the biggest upsets of the day with her victory in Female Kumite -55kg. The current European Championships runner-up defeated top favourite Serap Ozcelik of Turkey 5-1 in an intense final bout. 

Plank, who lost the final of the European Games four years ago in Baku against Ozcelik took the lead with an early “Yuko”. Even though Ozcelik put the 1-1 soon after with another “Yuko”, the Austrian top karateka had an outstanding end of bout with one more “Yuko” and a late “Ippon” to take the bout and the title. 

"This is a dream for me. When you finally have this gold medal around your neck, it is amazing. The European Games is the most important competition for us this first part of the year, so it's been amazing for us to reach this goal," said Bettina Plank.


The wave of surprises continued in the final of Female Kumite -55kg. Underdog Ivet Goranova upset top favourite Anzhelika Terliuga of Ukraine so to become the new European Games champion. 

With less than two minutes to the end of the final bout, Ivet Goranova got the advantage of “Senshu” or first point with a punch action (“Yuko”). Anzhelika Terliuga showed her trade-mark abilities and scored an impressive “Ippon” by “Mawashi geri” kick. Then, the Bulgarian karateka who is ranked 12th in WKF World ranking recovered once again the lead after taking a forceful “Ippon” by leg sweep. Despite Terliuga’s attempts, Goranova maintained the advantage and won the bout 4-3.  

“It was my dream to get a gold medal here and I managed to take it. This tournament is the big event before the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, and I am really happy that I could be part of the Minsk 2019 European Games,” said Ivet Goranova. 


Anita Serogina avenged team-mate Terliuga’s defeat and took the title in Female Kumite -61kg following a 3-1 victory over Tjasa Ristic of Slovenia. The two new-comers engaged in a disputed bout that finished when 10th-ranked Serogina scored three “Yuko” for one of 18th-ranked Ristic. 

“I feel very good. Usually, before the competition even starts, I only have the gold medal in mind. However, in a Karate tournament, many things can happen and small details can drive you to victory or defeat, like being lucky etc… Here, I wanted to win gold so bad. Luckily for me, everything went well,” said Serogina. 


In Male Kumite -60kg, both finalists had claimed surprising triumphs in the previous rounds so to reach the title-deciding bout. In the final, Latvia’s Kalvis Kalnins showed top form and scored four “Yuko” to defeat Azerbaijan’s Firdovsi Farzaliyev. Kalnins who is placed 17th in WKF World ranking controlled the match and upset 8th-ranked Farzaliyev who arrived in Minsk as the current title-holder after his victory in Baku four years ago. 

“It is the second gold for Latvia in the tournament, and for a small country like ours, this is very important. This year was very difficult for me but today I had my lucky day. Also, we had very good preparation before coming here in order to succeed in this tournament,” said Kalnins. 


Powerhouse nation of Italy claimed another medal in Minsk after Luca Maresca’s victory in Male Kumite -67kg. The Italian karateka who had two honours in Karate 1-Premier League and Karate 1-Series A as the best result this year beat Mario Hodzic of Montenegro in a roller-coaster of final. 

Maresca took a comfortable lead in the match after scoring three “Yuko”. However, when the title seemed in the Italian karateka’s hands, Hodzic scored an impressive “Ippon”. Nonetheless, Maresca connected a late “Yuko” to win the title 4-3. 

“I am very happy because the last period was not very good for me. I am particularly pleased because at the 1st European Games I took silver. Here, I could not set for silver or bronze, I just wanted gold,” said Luca Maresca. 


Two of the most outstanding athletes of the sport met in the electric final of Male Kumite -74kg. Stanislav Horuna of Ukraine and Rafael Aghayev of Azerbaijan clashed for gold in a final bout that represented the revolution of new names that took over the competition here in Minsk. 

Fan-favorite Horuna showed his prevalence in the bout with a “Yuko” thus taking a step forward to victory. Five-time World champion Aghayev tried to come back, but he soon received a sensational “Ippon” from Horuna who used his kicking abilities to put the final 4-0 in the score-board. It is Horuna’s biggest title as the Ukrainian karateka completes the successful performance of athletes from the Eastern European country here today. 

“I can’t describe what I am feeling right now. I have been waiting for this moment for so long, and once it happens, there are no words to define it. You need to experience this feeling,” said Stanislav Horuna. 

The medal ceremony put an end to an outstanding tournament that showcased the sensational sporting spirit and emotion of Karate at multi-sports events. 

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