In Madrid, it was... The right time for Jonathan Horne, the freshness of Naoto Sago, the tears of Ayumi Uekusa, the vigor of Rafael Aghayev, the beautiful places of honor of Vinicius Figueira and Burak Uygur (with Turkey) and... some misfortunes.
It was the 24th Karate World championships held from November 6th to 11th. Japan has confirmed its rise to « its » Games, Iran is second ahead of France and its 2 gold medals, Steven Da Costa and the women's Kumite team. Flashback on a week full of emotions.
By Ludovic Mauchien in Madrid
There are champions by accident. There are those who would have deserved it but who never have been, sometimes by… accident. And there is Jonathan Horne. At 29, he was crowned World heavyweight champion by beating the defending champion, Iran’s Sajad Ganjzadeh. That’s just nuts !
In the final, he inflicts a 5-2 thanks to a Ushiro Ura Mawashi Geri Jodan (3 points), a shot that we haven’t seen in a long time. That’s just very nuts !
It could never have be, sinking over the years, failure after failure. 3rd in 2008, five times European champion, he could not hang a world medal. He questioned himself, changed his mental approach, never departing from his goal. That’s just very, very nuts !
Karate 1 Grand Winner and World champion, Jonathan Horne has done the best season of his career. A very good sign for the Tokyo Olympics, its next goal.
If the smile was on with Jonathan Horne, it was time for tears for Ayumi Uekusa. Incredible in a way ! Many would have signed to achieve such performances !!! The Japanese champion leaves Madrid with 2 medals ! But, admittedly, they are both in silver, one with the Japanese Kumite team, the other in +68 kg. These tears were in the wake of her individual final. Greece’s Chatziliadou took her revenge from the last Worlds’ final and won (3-1). Until then, Ayumi Uekusa didn’t concede any points and was faithful to her talent : fine strategist and skillful technician. A great art ! But « my demons came back ».
The finals of Horne and Uekusa were high leveled. But the most beautiful is the one that opposed Vinicius Figueira to Steven Da Costa (-67 kg). Wow, that was Karate ! The Brazilian fighter opens the hostilities with a magnificent kick (3-0). The French answers with a sweep (3-3). Figueira replies with a Mawashi Chudan (5-3). Da Costa concludes with Ura Mawashi, his special (6-5). He is World champion ! In this 100% adidas final, there were two winners, but only one gold medalist.
At 21, Steven Da Costa won his… 7th gold medal in the international championships, the 2nd one in Senior with his European title in 2016. For Vinicius Figueira, silver has a bitter taste, but his performance is impressive. Panamerican champion this summer, he wins his first world medal and many important points for the Olympic ranking.
With this world title, Steven Da Costa has greatly contributed to the ranking of France, ultimately 3rd nation of the event. After 3 days of gloom, the sun began to rise with the qualification for two finals. The second one is the female Kumite team, brilliant from beginning to end, illuminated by an inspired Leila Heurtault, and enlightened by Lea Avazeri, Andrea Brito and Laura Sivert. The result ? Switzerland, the European champions, in repechage in the 1st round, the amazing Egypt, 2014 World champion, trapped in the 1/2 final, and then Japan in the final, 2-0 ! The French team was just dazzling ! It won its 5th consecutive medal, the 3rd gold with a new team. For 3 out 4 of them, it was their 1st Worlds.
These figures are impressive, however, compared to those of the « King », they appear almost normal. Rafael Aghayev won in Madrid his… 7th World medal. But it is not a geld one, he did not win her 6th world title. He lost but, contrary to former defeats, he did not seem to be so depressed. He lost in the ½ final against his eternal rival, Italy’s Busa, before going on to win the bronze medal against Uzbekistan’s Otabolaev. Rafael Aghayev has gained many points and, with those he had already accumulated, he is getting closer to Tokyo.
If Aghayev was playing his 6th World championships, this 24th edition also allowed to see some promising new comers, logically synonymous with disappointment for many competition’s favorites, early beaten (Sara Cardin, Sadriddin Saymatov, Amir Mehdizadeh, Johanna Kneer, Thomas Scott…).
For the fresh, smiling and cool side, Poland’s Banaszczyk (-55 kg) and Greece’s Chatziliadou (+68 kg), both World champions, were the best, with « little » Naoto Sago (-60 kg). He should not have played these Worlds. He is illuminated them, especially with a stunning ½ final, won 10-0 against Kazakhstan’s Assadilov.
In the final, he was even smiling ! He led the fight. He was the boss. With a little more experience, he would have won. But he was trapped by Italy’s Crescenzo a few seconds from the end (2-2, 5-2). With what he has shown, future belongs to him.
He is also Silver medalist, but Burak Uygur’s sad face contrasted with Naoto Sago’s smiling one. All the medals do not have the same flavor… First, Burazk Uygur won it in the team competition. The reigning European champion, Turkey, lost in the final against the reigning World one, Iran. This 2nd place was not enough to confort him after his early loss in individual (-67 kg). Winner of the reigning World champion in the 1st round, Englabd’s Jordan Thomas, he was beaten by Azerbaijan’s Hasanov in the 2nd one (2-1). End of the Madrid story for the two-times European champion. His performance reflects his country’s one.
6 medals, 4th total of the competition, but no gold and a 12th position in the nations standings. As expected, these World championships were clearly led by Japan helped, it is true, by its Kata, the dazzling Ryu Kiyuna (3rd title in a row) and Kiyou Shimizu (2nd) and the two teams, both World champion. A total of 10 medals, including 4 gold. Iran ranks 2nd nation, with 7 medals (2 gold, 1 silver, 4 bronze) and France 3rd (2 gold). Spain, at home, wins 6 medals but only one gold and ranks 4th. Same problem for Italy, 5th (1, 1, 5). On the whole, 11 countries won at least one gold medal and 27 appeared on the podium.