Karate 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournament: Day 1 Preview
Some 500 karateka from 98 countries will descend on Paris this weekend
Some 500 karatekas from 98 countries will descend on Paris this weekend looking to secure the final 24 Olympic berths still available via the Karate 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournament running from June 11 to 13.
A total of 80 athletes (40 women and 40 men) will take part in Karate’s historic Olympic debut this August at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, with 40 karateka having already qualified as per the WKF standings.
The Paris Qualification Tournament is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. local time on Friday, beginning with the elimination rounds for Kata Female, Kumite Male -67kg and Kumite Female -55kg.
Following the repechages and ranking rounds, the top four karatekas from each category will return to the tatami at 18:00 for the finals: a round-robin format in which the top three will book their tickets to Tokyo.
In the Female Kata class, all eyes will be on current EKF Championships runner-up and 2017 U21 World Championships silver medallist Dilara Bozan (TUR). Others to look out for in the Female Kata category in Paris are UFAK Champion Manal Kamilia Hadj Said (ALG), OKF Champion and four-time continental champion Alexandrea Anacan (NZL), 2014 World Champion in Team Kata Jasmin Juettner (GER), and 2016 World Championships runner-up Sarah Sayed (EGY).
The competition is set to be just as intense in the Kumite Male -67kg, with AKF champion Sadriddin Saymatov (UZB), EKF champion Eray Samdan (TUR), and UFAK champion Nader Azzouzi (TUN) leading the way.
Other contenders include PKF champion Guillermo Ramirez (COL), 2018 World championships bronze medallist Vinicius Figueira (BRA), two-time World Champion (2016, 2012) Amir Medizadeh (IRI), and 2016 World Championships silver medallist Yves Martial Tadissi (HUN).
The Kumite Female -55kg category will be contested by a strong pool of international champions. PKF champion Alessandra Vindrola (PER), UFAK champion Aicha Sayah (MOR), UFAK champion Widad Draou (ALG) and OKF champion Maria Alexiadis (AUS) will vie for podium finishes on Friday, with EKF champion Anna Chernysheva (RUS), AKF champion Bakhriniso Babaeva (UZB), and 2018 World champion Dorota Banaszczyk (POL) giving them a run for their money.
Rounding out what is arguably the strongest category at the Olympic qualifiers this weekend are 2014 World Champion Sara Cardin (ITA), EKF Championships silver medallist and 2018 World Championships silver medallist Jana Messerschmidt (GER), two-time World Champion (2016, 2012) Alexandra Recchia (FRA), and U21 World champion Valentina Toro (CHI).
Check back tomorrow for a preview of Days 2 and 3. On Saturday, athletes in the Male Kata, Kumite Female -61kg and Kumite Male -75kg will hit the mats, while Olympic tickets in the Kumite Female +61kg and Kumite Male +75kg will be determined on Sunday.
Catch all of the competition LIVE and free-of-charge on the WKF YouTube channel. For a full list of competing athletes this weekend at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin, click here.