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Tokyo Olympics karate in review: Sport debuts with high volume, energy

Tokyo Olympics karate in review: Sport debuts with high volume, energy
Posted at 12:02 AM, Aug 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 03:02:44-04

Karate's debut as an Olympic sport brought some terrific athleticism, solid contact, and -- yes -- a whole lot of yelling to our screens and the Nippon Budokan.

There was the kata, which did not involve competing on the floor at the same time as the opponent, rather a discipline of power and technique, as well as kumite, which was hand (and foot) to hand (and body) competition.

Turkey topped the medal table with four medals, edging the three won by hosts Japan. Two medals were won by Spain, Egypt, Italy, Azerbaijan, China, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

USA's Torres shines in men's kata

American karateka Ariel Torres needed to outshine a living legend to win his bronze medal in kata and did just that, defeating Venezuela's Antonio Diaz in the latter's last competition.

The Cuban-born Torres has a story detailing his passion for the sport: As a youth he would wear his karate uniform and ask stopped cars for donations to raise money to cover the costs of karate.

"We did that for hours and hours a week, trying to accumulate the money to go to competitions. There were times we couldn't even eat because we were sending all the money towards karate, so it was hard."

Torres

Both Torres and Diaz as well as second bronze winner Ali Sofuoglu of Turkey finished behind Spain's silver-winning Damian Quintero and Japan's Ryo Kiyuna, who claimed gold.

The women's kata saw the nations reversed between gold and silver, as Spain's Sandra Sanchez beat out Japan's Kiyou Shimizu.

Grace Lau of Hong Kong and Viviano Bottaro of Italy won bronze.

SEE MORE: Italy's Luigi Busa wins gold in 75kg kumite

Kumite

The six gold medal winners in kumite represented six different nations, not one of them host Japan.

In fact, no nation had more than one gold winner and that's including the two golds awarded in kata.

Azerbaijan boasts two silver winners in Rafael Aghayev (men's 75kg) and Irina Zaretska (women's +61kg).

Iran's Sajjad Ganjzadeh (+75kg) won gold by hansoku (disqualification) following a violent kick from silver-winning Tareg Hamadi of Saudi Arabia.

American athlete Brian Irr of Newfane, New York, was eliminated prior to the knockout rounds.

 

SEE MORE: Sandra Sanchez wins first ever Olympic karate gold medal

2020 Olympics karate medal table

The medal table for karate at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo
The medal table for karate at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo
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