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Promising karatekas outshine favourites as Karate 1-Premier League concludes in Rabat


Up-and-coming karatekas delivered outstanding performances to claim the titles of the Karate 1-Premier League Rabat. Promising competitors such as Mo Sheung Grace Lau of Hong Kong, Katrine Pedersen of Denmark or Leila Hertault of France among other surprised favourites and dominated the competition to round off the fourth stop of Karate’s biggest series of international events. 

Mo Sheung Grace Lau of Hong Kong produced one of the biggest upsets of the day. The up-and-coming star took the title in Female Kata after edging Grand Winner Sandra Sanchez of Spain in a tight final. The 26-year-old karateka excelled in her performance of “Chatanyara Kunshaku” kata and took her first gold by split decision 3-2. 

“I am really happy because it is the first time that I win a gold medal this year. I have reached the final day three times but I could never win, so I am very happy,” said Mo Sheung Grace Lau. 

With her victory in Rabat, Mo Sheung Grace Lau got back at Grand Winner and World Ranking leader Sanchez who beat the Hong Kong shining promise in the final of Karate 1-Premier League Dubai. 

“In Dubai (in the final against Sandra Sanchez) I made a mistake, so today I just worked on my performance. I knew that I had to do my best if I wanted to win. This victory gives me the confidence to get the best results in the next competitions, such as the rest of the Karate 1-Premier League, the Asian Games and the World Championships,” added the promising karateka. 


The other big upset of the tournament was produced by France’s Leila Heurtault. The 2015 U21 European champion shocked with her victory over Grand Winner Xiaoyan Yin in an impressive demonstration of offensive Karate in the final of Female Kumite -61kg. After receiving a 'Yuko', the French karateka performed an outstanding ‘Ura-mawashi geri’ kick to take an ‘Ippon’. Heurtault then connected a late 'Yuko' to finish the bout 4-1. It is the first gold medal in senior competitions for the 23-year-old karateka. 

Katrine Pedersen of Denmark completed the list of athletes getting surprising results today. The current World Championships silver medallists presented an exceptional performance to defeat Grand Winner Iryna Zaretska of Azerbaijan in the final of Female Kumite -68kg. After taking two 'Yukos', the silver medallist of Karate 1-Series A Guadalajara from Denmark got an impressive ‘Ura-mawashi geri jodan’ to wrap up her showdown with an ‘Ippon’. Pedersen finished the bout 5-0 in one of the highlights of the day. 


Uzbekistan’s Sadriddin Saymatov was the only Grand Winner succeeding in Rabat. The 20-year-old athlete showcased excellent form and took his first gold of the season following a forceful demonstration in Male Kumite -60kg. The current Grand Winner beat Turkey’s Aykut Kaya by 4-1 after coming from behind in the title-deciding bout. It is the fourth medal this year for the current U21 World Championships runner-up who won gold in Karate 1-Series A Salzburg and two bronze medals in Karate 1-Premier League Paris and Dubai. 


The local Karate fans had the chance to celebrate at least one success of the representatives of the organising country. The Male Kata team of the host nation defeated Malaysia in the final by unanimous decision. 

“It is great to have all the support that we have received from the organisers and from the public. It is the sixth time that I get to win at home and for me, it keeps being very special. The final was very hard because we were facing Malaysia, one of the best teams. However, we were focused and we performed at a great level,” said Mohammed El Hanni.

Nonetheless, the celebrations of the local country could not be completed. Khaoula Ouhammad was defeated in the final of Female Kumite -50kg by Japan’s Miho Miyahara by ‘Hansoku’ or disqualification for accumulated infractions. Ouhammad dominated the fight but exceeded the count of infringements in the bout and ended with the silver medal for the host nation.  

The final of Female Kata team also went away from the hosts’ hands since Turkey upset Morocco (4-1)


With four medals in four appearances this year, Azerbaijan’s Rafael Aghayev returned to top form after a season struggling with injuries. The five-time world champion had taken gold in Karate 1-Premier League Dubai, and claimed a silver in Paris and a bronze in Rotterdam so to lead the standings in Male Kumite -75kg. The fan favourite from Azerbaijan overpowered Dastonbek Otabolaev of Uzbekistan 3-0 by taking an early ‘Yuko’ and finishing with a ‘Waza-Ari’ after a trade-mark 'Mawashi geri chudan'.


Egypt showed power in Rabat and confirmed the progression of the African nation. Karatekas of the northeast African country ruled the categories of Male Kumite -67kg and Male Kumite -84kg as the two categories saw All-Egyptian finals. Ali Elsawy won gold in Male Kumite -67kg after beating Magdy Hanafi by 3-1. In Male Kumite -84kg the victory went to Ahmed Elmasry who upset teammate Mohamed Elkotby by ‘Hantei’ or “Winner by decision". 

The Female Kumite -55kg was the confrontation between an experienced athlete against a newcomer.  Valeria Kumizaki of Brazil ended up taking the gold medal as the Brazilian karateka defeated Carla Burkitt of England by 2-0. The 32-year-old competitor from Brazil marked two ‘Yukos’ and showed efficiency to earn her first medal in Karate 1-Premier League this season. 

Meanwhile, Spain who had previously taken two bronze medals in Kata could not come back from the disappointment of Sandra Sanchez’s defeat and suffered another upset in the final of Male Kata. Ali Sofuoglu of Turkey beat Spain’s Sergio Galan by split decision in a tight title-deciding bout.  

Sofuoglu who had claimed bronze in Karate 1-Premier League Dubai performed a compelling 'Sansay' kata to open the count of gold medals for the Turkish delegation in the tournament. 

The final of Female Kumite +68kg was a repetition of the title-deciding bout of the Karate 1-Series A Guadalajara. In this case, the victory went to Finland’s Titta Keikanen’s hands in one of the most thrilling bouts of the day. Spain’s Laura Palacio controlled most of the bout and had gotten two ‘Yukos’. However, in a surprising outcome of the match, Keikanen performed an excellent ‘Ura-Mawashi geri’ to take an ‘Ippon’ followed by a ‘Mawashi-geri chudan’ to get the closing ‘Waza-ari’ (5-2) 

The competition finished with Mehdi Filali’s victory in Male Kumite +84kg. The 20-year-old karateka beat Germany’s Jonathan Horne in the final by 4-2 and confirmed the great progression of young karatekas in the international scene. 

The Karate 1-Premier League will travel now to Istanbul (Turkey) where the best karatekas in the world will gather from June 8 to 10 to clash for glory in the fifth stop of Karate’s first-class series of international events. 

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