The 2023 Senior European Karate Championships started today in Guadalajara (Spain). The new names of the sport took the spotlight on day 1 of action as surprises took over the competition.
SURPRISES IN FEMALE KATA
The Kata competition was full of surprises and unexpected victories. Two newcomers made it to the final of Female Kata after upsetting the favourites.
Local hopeful and current Junior Continental champion Paola Garcia Lozano aims at extending Spain’s domination in the category thus following icon Sandra Sanchez’s footsteps with a surprising qualification for the final. The promising Spaniard topped the pool with a score of 44.3 with “Papuren” kata.
Helvetia Taily of France also surprised favourites and reached her first final in Senior competitions. The 2019 World U21 Championships bronze medallist upset front-runner Dilara Bozan of Turkiye after getting a score of 41.8 with “Gankaku” kata.
OLYMPIANS SHINE IN MALE KATA
The Male Kata competition saw two Olympians running for gold.
Damian Quintero of Spain hopes to recover the continental crown at home after finishing second last year. The Olympic Games silver medallist used the home-ground factor in his favour to top the pool with a score of 42.6 and “Anan Dai” Kata.
Olympian Mattia Busato of Italy confirmed the predictions and qualified for the final following an impressive performance in the pool round (score of 40.4 with “Unsu” Kata). It will be the second final for Busato after his victory in 2014.
CLASH OF TITANS IN FEMALE KUMITE -68KG
Two of the most experienced and successful karatekas in the international scene will fight for the title in Female Kumite -68kg. Irina Zaretska of Azerbaijan and Elena Quirici of Switzerland will meet in the “Clash of Titans” of the day.
Current World champion Zaretska hopes to win her second continental crown in Guadalajara. The two-time World titleholder and Olympic Games silver medallist from Azerbaijan qualified for the final after defeating Silvia Semeraro of Italy in the semi-final 3-1.
Meanwhile, Elena Quirici reached her fifth continental final as she hopes to win the title that she got for the last time in 2018. The Swiss karateka beat Eda Eltemur of Turkiye in a roller-coaster of semi-final (6-5)
POWERHOUSE NATIONS PREVAIL IN GUADALAJARA
Two first-timers will clash for gold in Female Kumite +68kg. Johanna Kneer of Germany, who has a continental bronze medal in the category of Female Kumite -68kg under her belt, qualified for the final of her new division after edging Nancy Garcia of France 4-3.
The other spot in the final was taken by Farida Aliyeva of Azerbaijan who reached the title-deciding bout following a disqualification of her rival Clio Ferracuti of Italy.
It wasn’t the only final for Germany today as Reem Khamis reached the last bout of Female Kumite -61kg. The current U21 European Championships runner-up upset Gulbahar Gozutok of Turkiye in the semi-finals 3-0
The German representative will meet Grand Winner Anita Serogina of Ukraine in the final. The eight-time continental championships medallist and 2013 winner defeated Laura Sivert of France in the semi-finals 1-0.
Ukraine celebrated one more final spot since Andrii Zaplitnyi also qualified for the gold medal bout in Male Kumite -75kg. The Ukrainian karateka edged Quentin Mahauden of Belgium in the semi-finals 4-4.
The other spot in the finals is taken by Erman Eltemur of Turkiye. The three-time continental championships medallist beat Farid Aghayev of Ukraine in the semi-finals 4-1.
Powerhouse nation of France reached its second final of the day in Male Kumite +84kg. Mehdi Filali qualified for his first continental medal bout after upsetting Ryzvan Talibov of Ukraine.
His rival in the final is Georgios Tzanos of Greece who aims at reaching his third continental title, the first in this division. The gold medallist in 2014 and 2012 made it to the final following a 2-0 victory over Fatih Sen of Turkiye.
Another of the traditionally successful delegations in Europe added one more representative in the finals as Michele Martina took the flag of Italy to the title-deciding bout in Male Kumite -84kg. The Italian karateka who won the continental crown in 2018 aims at his second European crown following a 3-1 triumph over Konstantinos Mastrogiannis of Greece.
The other spot in the final is claimed by Enes Garibovic of Croatia. A two-time continental medallist, Garibovic reached the final after beating Brian Timmermans of the Netherlands (2-2).