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Top Kata and Kumite showdown at day 1 of EKF Cadet, Junior & U21 Championships


European Karate’s future stars took the spotlight in the first day of the 2017 EKF Cadet, Junior & U21 Championships being held in Sofia (Bulgaria). One perfect kata and one electric kumite at a time, promising athletes from all over Europe demonstrated Karate’s impressive strength among youngsters with memorable performances. 

The inaugural day of action in Sofia crowned the first line of young Karatekas destined to rule the sport in Europe in coming years. The dinasty of first-class Kata competitors from Spain - with the two current world ranking leaders coming from the Iberian country, Damian Quintero and Sandra Sanchez - found its continuity in Sofia, since three of the six gold medals in Kata categories today went to the southern European nation.  

Spain’s Marta Vega claimed the gold medal in Junior Kata Female while teammate Lidia Rodriguez reached the top spot of the podium of U21 Kata Female. The golden performance of the Spanish delegation was completed by Sergio Galan’s triumph in U21 Kata Male category. 

“I am so happy!”, said Marta Vega, who acknowledged Spain’s success today in the category of choreographed movements. “Spanish Karate deserved this because for years a great work has been done to be where we are now.”

Meanwhile, Lidia Rodriguez referred to all the efforts made to reach this triumph. “It has been very difficult for me to be here. Up till now I have had plenty of bad luck, but today everything went perfect and I got the medal that I worked so hard for,” said the 19 year-old karateka, who had an explanation for Spain’s collection of medals in the first day of competition in Sofia: “All that we have trained and worked, it showed here today with these medals,” Rodriguez added. 

“Our coach always says that you go to championships to retrieve the medals that you win day by day in training sessions, and I think that this is what happened to us today. We trained very well over the past months and had great prospects before coming here,” declared Sergio Galan. “I am very glad because it was my last year here and I wanted to finish with a gold medal,” said the 20-year old athlete. 

Italy and Russia also registered a successful first day in the tournament since the two delegations claimed 2 gold medals each. The “azzurri” karatekas prevailed in Cadet Male Kata with Alessandro Cricco, and in Cadet Kumite Male -52kg with Matia Ciarloni, as Russia dominated the Cadet Kumite Male +70kg through Robert Avakimov’s victory and in Cadet Kata Female with Anna Shcherbina’s success.  

Hosts Bulgaria also had reasons to celebrate since Radoslav Vakarelov earned the first gold for the organising country. The 15 year-old karateka turned Armec Arena sports hall into a Bulgarian celebration when the national anthem honoured his victory in Cadet Kumite Male -63kg. “I feel perfect. It is great to win the first medal for my country. (Local fans) supported me so much and I am very thankful to them for all their help,” said Vakarelov.  

Action will continue on Saturday with Day 2 of the competition. Click here for more information on the 2017 EKF Cadet, Junior & U21 Championships.  

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