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Turkish celebration in day 1 of Karate European Championships


It was an emotional day for Turkish delegation at the Karate European Championships being held in Kocaeli (Turkey). The host country made the wishes of Turkish Karate fans come true as six of its representatives will fight for gold in the finals of the tournament. 

Local idol and Karate Star Enes Erkan could not hold back the tears as he made it to the title-deciding bout of Male Kumite +84kg. In one of his last appearances in international competition, the captain of the Turkish team turned the Şehit Polis Recep Topaloğlu Sports Hall in Izmit into a celebration when he earned the ticket to the final. The 29 year-old Istanbul-native took use of an early yuko to defeat Hungary’s Daniel Molnar. Erkan will clash in the final with Italy’s Simone Marino

“I am so proud to be in the final. I am really happy right now, and I just want to be European Champion again,” said the two-time continental title-holder. “Winning here is great, this is my home and I am very happy”. 

Other of the Male Kumite categories with Turkish representation in the final are the -84kg with Ugur Aktas and the -67kg competition with Burak Uygur. The 22 year-old Aktas defeated Germany’s Noah Bitsch so to have the chance to fight for gold in front of family and friends. His rival in the last bout will be FYR of Macedonia’s Berat Yakupi. Meanwhile, 2015 World Junior, Cadet and U21 Champion Burak Uygur demonstrated his progression by beating front-runner Yves Martial Tadissi of Hungary to reach the final, where he will clash with Russia’s Alexandr Gutnik

In female competition Tuba Yakan continued the sensational day for Turkish delegation after qualifying for the final of the -55kg category. The 25 year-old karateka shocked rivals and beat Anzhelika Terliuga by split decision. On the other side of the tatami, the Turkish favourite will meet defending European champion and former World title-holder Sara Cardin of Italy. The Italian Karate Star demonstrated top form and defeated current world champion Emilie Thouy of France in an outstanding bout that ended 6-0 for the Italian ace. Sara Cardin will then fight for her fourth continental crown. 

Meltem Hocaoglu followed suit and will also represent Turkey in the final of Female Kumite 68+ Kg category. The 25 year-old Shotokan practitioner beat 2016 Grand Winner Anastasiya Stepashko in the decisive bout, so to clash against defending European champion Anne Laure Florentin of France. The current title holder from France repeated ticket to the final by overcoming Dominika Tararova of Slovakia.  

Spanish domination in Kata

Kata powerhouses of Spain demonstrated their domination in the category of choreographed movements by placing two of their representatives in the title-deciding stages of the competition. Karate Star Damian Quintero made it to his sixth consecutive final and hopes to extend his outstanding tally so to confirm his status of one of the best Kata competitors in recent years. The four-time European champion beat Azerbaijan’s Roman Heydarov by split decision and will have local idol Ali Sofouglu as rival in the bout for gold. 

Meanwhile, Spain’s Sandra Sanchez confirmed her condition of top favourite and reached the final in Female Kata. The Karate Star defeated local competitor Dilara Bozan so to reach her third consecutive continental final. The two-time European champion gave a flawless performance in her three bouts of the day and aims at extending her domination in the category. 

Sandra Sanchez will clash for gold against one of the front-runners of the category, Italy’s Viviana Bottaro. The Italian Police state agent is the most awarded karateka in international competition this season thus far after claiming gold in all four Karate 1-Premier League this year, three of them in the Team Kata competition and the last one in individual Kata. The Genova-native unanimously defeated current silver medallist Sandy Scordo of France to make it to the final.

Front-runners take the spotlight 

In the rest of categories at stake, favourites demonstrated their top level by reaching the final stages of the competition. Current World Championships silver medallist Lucie Ignace of France reached the final of Female Kumite -61kg after beating Anita Serogina of Ukraine in semifinals. The defending European champion will clash for gold against Jovana Prekovic of Serbia who beat local karateka Merve Coban. 

The final of Female Kumite -68kg will be one of the highlights of the event since two of the top competitors in the category will clash for gold. Defending World Champion Alisa Buchinger of Austria will fight for the top of the podium against 2014 World champion Alizee Agier of France. 

In Male Kumite -60kg Kalvis Kalnin of Latvia and Marko Antic of Serbia surprised and reached the last day, in the first continental final for the Serbian karateka and the second title-deciding bout for the 2012 European Championships runner-up. 

“Starting point for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020”

In Male Kumite -75kg two of the dominating forces of the category used superstar Rafael Aghayev’s absence – who is preparing the upcoming Islamic Games to be held in his home town of Baku – to claim the continental title. Italy’s Luigi Busa earned the continental title for the last time in 2014 and the fifth-degree Shotokan practitioner hopes to claim his fourth continental gold medal after also winning in 2012 and 2007. 

“These European Championships are important because they represent the starting point in our preparations towards the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. I am very pleased with how this first stage went for me as I could make good bouts in the eliminating rounds. I will have a difficult final on Saturday and I hope to do it as well as possible to win gold,” said 29 year-old Italian champion. 

His rival in the final will be Ukraine’s Stanislav Horuna. The fan favourite who won Karate 1-Premier League in Paris this year only have one appearance in continental finals after his silver medal in 2014. So the title-deciding bout will be a repetition of that memorable clash three years ago. 

Action will continue in Kocaeli with day 2 of competition that will determine the finalists of the team categories. The thrilling quest for the European crowns continues in the Turkish city. 

Click here for more information on the EKF European Championships. 

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