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Young karatekas elated by Youth Olympic qualification


They are Karate’s first Youth Olympic athletes. The 24 karatekas who won the right to participate in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games made their Olympic dreams come true this weekend in the qualification tournament being held in Umag (Croatia). The new Youth Olympic karatekas all shared the hopes and dreams of succeeding in the first Youth Olympic qualifier for the sport and are looking forward to the moment of representing Karate in Buenos Aires 2018.  

“I am so happy that I could win the qualification to Buenos Aires 2018. It is an honour to represent Thailand in the Youth Olympic Games and I hope that I can win a medal there!” said Aika Okazaki. The young athlete from Thailand claimed the title of Female Kumite -53kg in the first day of competition following an impressive demonstration of karate abilities and after beating Yasmin Nasr Elgewily of Egypt in the final. 


“There are no words to describe what we are feeling right now,” said Robert Avakimov of Russia. The promising karateka was one of the two Russian representatives qualifying for Buenos Aires 2018 during the first competition day. 

The same sentiment was shared by Pedro Pablo de la Roca of Guatemala. “There are no words to explain this moment,” said the athlete from Guatemala after winning the Youth Olympic qualification. The young Guatemalan karateka won the semi-final bout in Male Kumite -61kg in the second day thus adding his country to the list of nations with qualified athletes Buenosemos Aires 2018. 

“I have been dreaming of this moment ever since I saw my first Youth Olympic Games on television. All that we invested, all the hard work, tears, efforts have paid off,” added Pedro Pablo de la Roca. 

“It is amazing! It is a great feeling!” said Lauren Paige Salisbury of Great Britain. The British athlete got the second spot for her country on the second day of competition after prevailing in Female Kumite +59kg. 

“I am very happy. It was a very hard tournament. At this moment, I don’t think I still grasp how big this is. Maybe tomorrow I will start being aware of how great the qualification is!” said Zsofia Baranyi of Hungary who won the ticket to Buenos Aires 2018 after winning in phase 2 of the Female Kumite -59kg category. 

Russia’s Anna Chernysheva also qualified for Buenos Aires 2018 after dominating the first day of the tournament in Female Kumite -59kg. The Russian karateka got the gold medal in the opening day and defeated Mobina Heydariozomcheloe of Iran in the final. 

“I am so happy. I am very satisfied with how the tournament went for me. I just wanted to give the best of me. When I heard the national anthem during the ceremony, I felt very proud,” said Chernysheva. 

Japanese representatives became one of the big winners of the qualifying process. The delegation of the birth nation of the sport got three spots to Buenos Aires 2018 by standings and managed to place two more athletes in the Youth Olympic Games during the first day of action. 

“I am very happy, I feel great. Karate is very important in Japan, and it is fantastic that we already have five places in Buenos Aires 2018,” said Keisei Sakiyama. The young karateka from Takamatsu city prevailed in Male Kumite +68kg and confirmed his status of top favourite. 

“We have one more representative competing (Sakura Sawashima). We hope that she can win so we can complete the maximum number of six qualified athletes for the Youth Olympic Games,” added Kotaro Nakamura. The 17-year-old from Osaka finished in the second position of Male Kumite -68kg in the first day right after tournament winner Robert Shyroian from Ukraine. 

Sakura Sawashima delivered, and the young athlete and achieved the qualification on the second day, presenting an outstanding performance throughout all the rounds. “I lost in the first day and for me, it was very hard. But I was able to change my attitude and I am very happy that I could win the qualification in the last chance I had,” said the young Japanese karateka who felt a mix-up of support and pressure today. 

“I had a lot of pressure because I was the last one from our team fighting to qualify. But I also had a lot of support from my coaches and my team-mates who helped very much to achieve this success,” added the new Youth Olympian. 

“I am so proud for being the first athlete from Saudi Arabia to qualify for the Karate competition of the Youth Olympic Games. I want to thank my coach, my mother and father; I am looking forward to participating in Buenos Aires 2018,” said Mohammed Alassiri of Saudi Arabia. 

The young Saudi karateka showed a great level of performance to win the category of Male Kumite -61kg and give the first ticket to Buenos Aires 2018 for his country. “It was a difficult tournament, with many great competitors. Luckily, thanks to my hard work and training, I managed to get a high score in my bouts so I could win the competition,” he added. 

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