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Sandra Sanchez, Ayumi Uekusa and rising stars rule Karate 1-Premier League as action concludes in Rotterdam


Grand Winners Sandra Sanchez and Ayumi Uekusa and young up-and-coming karatekas dominated the Karate 1-Premier League Rotterdam. The Japanese and Turkish delegations had a memorable competition as they won four and three golds respectively. 

Grand Winner Sandra Sanchez delighted the Karate fans on site with an outstanding performance of Papporen Kata. The winner of the Karate 1-Premier League Dubai claimed her second consecutive gold medal this season after defeating Emiri Iwamoto of Japan by 4-1 in the final. 

“For me it is like if it was the first one! I am really thrilled that I could get gold here. I think that I am in good form, but there is still room for improvement. I think I still haven’t reached my best and there’s a lot of work to do. I will continue working hard to get my goals,” said Sanchez who is on track of becoming one of the most awarded karatekas of all times. The current European champion is extending a sensational record of 29 consecutive medals in international competitions. 

The Japanese delegation bounced back from the disappointment of the defeat in Female Kata and continued gathering medals in the Kata category. Issei Shimbaba excelled in his performance of Suparinpei kata and beat Antonio Diaz of Venezuela 4-1 in the final. The eight-placed in the Karate 1-Premier League standings earned his first gold this season after taking two bronze medals at Karate 1-Series A Guadalajara and Karate 1-Premier League Paris. 

The second gold of the day for Japan came in the category of Female Kumite -50kg. Ayaka Tadano upset Sukatendel Srunta Sari of Indonesia after taking four yukos for one yuko of the Indonesian karateka. It is the second medal for the young Japanese karateka this season as the athlete from the Asian country earned a bronze in Karate 1-Series A Guadalajara. 

Ken Nishimura extended the medal count for the Japanese country and became one of the stars of the tournament with his victory in Male Kumite -75kg. The winner of the Karate 1-Premier League Paris who surprised with his impressive victory over superstar Rafael Aghayev in the pool round defeated Bahman Asgari Ghoncheh of Iran 4-2 in the final. 

Japan wrapped up the sensational day with yet another gold. Grand Winner Ayumi Uekusa prevailed in Female Kumite +68kg and continues performing at an impressive level. After finishing the season last year with no less than seven gold medals in eight international appearances, the World champion managed to reach the top of the podium for the second time this year after her victory in Dubai. The 25-year-old karateka defeated Hamideh Abbasali of Iran by Hantei or "Winner by decision" and continued showcasing her excellent form. 

"Although I think this was not my best tournament, I am happy that I could get the gold medal. I will try harder in the next events. My goal this season is to win gold in every tournament, especially in the Karate 1-Premier League and in the World Championships," said the Grand Winner.

"Each one of us in the Japanese team had the opportunity to participate in at least three events and everyone had a chance to prove themselves. I am sure that all the members of the team will continue working hard to improve their performances," added the current World champion about the Japanese success at the tournament. 


The All-Turkey final of Male Kumite -60kg ended with Eray Samdan taking the top of the podium after defeating team-mate Aykut Kaya 2-0. The 20-year-old gold medallist showed his status as one of the most promising karatekas of the international stage. After claiming the U21 World title, the six-time underage European champion won his second gold this year following his victory in Karate 1-Premier League Dubai. 

Turkey demonstrated great level in the tournament and earned two more gold medals. Burak Uygur extended the tally of awards for the Eastern European country with his 2-0 victory over Stefan Pokorny of Austria in Male Kumite -67kg. Meanwhile, Ugur Aktas of Turkey defeated Mohamed Elkotby of France by 2-1 in Male Kumite -84kg. 

The celebration of the Turkish delegation could not be completed since two other representatives of the Karate powerhouse nation had to settle with the second spot of the final podium. Tuba Yakan lost the final of Female Kumite -55kg against Tzu-Yun Wen of Chinese Taipei. The 24-year-old karateka from Chinese Taipei who got bronze in Karate 1-Premier League Dubai reached the top of the podium after taking 3 yukos for 1 yuko of her rival in the final bout. 

In Female Kumite -61kg Gwendoline Philippe of France produced another superb display and took gold by beating Merve Coban of Turkey by two yukos. Just as Turkey’s Eray Samdan in male categories, 18-year-old Gwendoline Philippe is fast becoming one of Karate’s most outstanding rising stars. The U21 World champion shocked in Karate 1-Premier League Paris with her silver medal and now in Rotterdam, the promising shining competitor reached the top of the podium. 

“I am very, very happy that I could get gold. I could win the gold medal in the U21 World Championships in Spain and then I took silver in Paris, so I really tried this time here. I am very pleased with this victory today,” said 18-year-old Phillipe. 

Germany also completed a successful day with two gold medals. Johanna Kneer succeeded with her 6-2 victory over Miroslava Kopunova of Slovakia in Female Kumite -68kg and Jonathan Horne also took the German flag to the top of the podium with his 3-1 triumph over local hopeful karateka Moreno Sheppard of The Netherlands in Male Kumite +84kg. 

The Karate 1-Premier League will travel to Rabat (Morocco) where the fourth stop of Karate’s first-class series of events will take place from April 6 to 8. 

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