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As Karate 1-Premier League Berlin nears, quest to Grand Winners award thrilling as ever


While the Karate 1-Premier League Berlin is reaching the -50 days count, and with the season of Karate’s first-class series of international competitions coming to an end, the quest to become Grand Winners is getting fiercer than ever. Who will be crowned ‘The best of the best’ in the memorable edition of Karate 1-Premier League?  

The competition is so balanced, that after five events no karateka has been able to prevail in more than two tournaments. No less than 12 karatekas have managed to claim gold medals in two events this year, thus appearing as main favourites to win the Grand Winner Awards. The list of two-time gold medallists includes current Grand Winners Sandra Sanchez of Spain, Ayumi Uekusa of Japan and Xiaoyan Yin of China, superstar Rafael Aghayev of Azerbaijan, World champion Ryo Kiyuna of Japan, and rising stars Miho Miyahara of Japan and Eray Samdan of Turkey, among others.  

The most awarded karateka thus far this year is Spain’s Sandra Sanchez. The defending Grand Winner is the only karateka winning medals in all five Karate 1-Premier League events of the season. With two golds in Rotterdam and Dubai, a silver medal in Rabat and bronze medals in Istanbul and Paris, the current European champion leads both the WKF World ranking and the Karate 1-Premier League standings of Female Kata. 

Hong Kong’s Mo Sheung Grace Lau is for the moment her main rival in the quest to the Grand Winner award. The 26-year-old karateka is one of the most surprising competitors of this edition of the Karate 1-Premier League and has won three medals this year, including a gold medal in Rabat. 


With four medals in five events, Azerbaijan’s Rafael Aghayev is also becoming one of the most successful athletes of the 2018 Karate 1-Premier League. The five-time World champion, who bounced back after a season of injuries last year, prevailed in the events in Dubai and Rabat, took a silver medal in Paris and won bronze in Rotterdam, so to top the Karate 1-Premier League standings in Male Kumite -75kg.  

The race to the Best of the Best award will be highly disputed in this category since Stanislav Horuna of Ukraine and Ken Nishimura of Japan are also taking the spotlight. Horuna, who is current Grand Winner of Male Kumite -75kg, has claimed three medals thus far including gold in Istanbul, while promising Japanese karateka Nishimura dominated the events in Paris and Rotterdam in two appearances this year. 


After five events, top Kata aces are showing an outstanding level in Male Kata. Defending World champion Ryo Kiyuna of Japan has taken two gold medals to a final tally of three awards and leads the Karate 1-Premier League standings of the category. In second place and only at 90 points of difference, Spain’s Damian Quintero is also opting to win the Best of the Best recognition. The Spaniard, the current Grand Winner of the category, is one of the most awarded competitors of the season since the European champion has taken four medals in four appearances. 

In addition to Sandra Sanchez, Damian Quintero and Stanislav Horuna, the list of current Grand Winners dominating the competition is completed with Xiaoyan Yin of China and Ayumi Uekusa of Japan. The Grand Winner in the Female Kumite -61kg category from China is extending her top form to this edition of the competition as the 24-year-old karateka has claimed three medals including victories in Paris and Dubai. 

After reaching the top of the podium in all but one of her international appearances last year, Ayumi Uekusa of Japan continues shining with a remarkable presentation in Karate’s biggest event. The World champion and current Grand Winner has claimed two gold medals (in Rotterdam and Dubai) and hopes to recover the Best of the Best award. It will not be an easy task for the 26-year-old karateka since she is facing fierce opposition from one of the top up-and-coming competitors of the season, Finland’s Titta Keinanen. The 23-year-old Finnish karateka leads the new breed of promising Karate idols and has taken two gold medals this year so to head the standings in the category of Female Kumite +68kg


The 2018 Karate 1-Premier League is putting the spotlight on young and promising competitors who are making a name for themselves in the event with memorable performances. Turkey’s Eray Samdan is the leader of the group since the 21-year-old six-time underage European Champion has won three medals in Karate 1-Premier League this year, including golds in Rotterdam and Dubai.

Egypt’s Ahmed Elmasry and Japan’s Miho Miyahara are also taking the tournament by a storm despite their young ages. Ahmed Elmasry of Egypt is only 19-years-old and one of the most promising karatekas in the world. The current U21 World champion has won three medals in three events this year and reached the top of the podium in Rabat and Dubai. 

Meanwhile, Miho Miyahara at 21-years-old is fast becoming one of the rising figures of the always prolific delegation of the birth nation of the sport. After winning three medals in three international appearances last year, the 2016 U21 World champion has topped the podium in two of her three Karate 1-Premier League participations this season. 

Italy’s Sara Cardin and France’s Alizee Agier complete the list of competitors who have taken two medals in the 2018 Karate 1-Premier League. The upcoming Karate 1-Premier League Berlin will be held at the Horst-Korber-Sportzentrum sports hall from September 14 to 16. The 2018 Karate 1-Premier League will conclude in Tokyo (Japan) from October 12 to 14. 


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