The following was written by the World Karate Federation and published here in its entirety.
The 2018 Karate World Championships are regarded as the most successful event of its kind according to the World Karate Federation. The tournament was held at WiZink Center sports hall in Madrid (Spain) from November 6 to 11 and ended in a momentous celebration of the sport.
"From the record-breaking number of participants to the memorable sporting showcase on the tatamis, all the elements of the 2018 Karate World Championships lead us to the same conclusion: this event was one of the most outstanding landmark moments in the history of our sport. The Karate World Championships will never be the same after the great success of the tournament in Madrid," said WKF President Antonio Espinós.
Over 1200 athletes from 131 countries gathered at the WiZink Center sports hall in Madrid for the event. This tally represents a notable growth in the number of participants with previous editions of Karate’s biggest competition, as Karate’s Olympic dimension plays an increasing role in the popularity of major events of the sport, according to the WKF.
"This accomplishment is due to the fact that the 2018 Karate World Championships are the last event of its kind before the debut of our sport in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. This tournament is also the competition that attributes a bigger number of points to the Olympic standings," explained the head of Karate’s international governing body.
Furthermore, the 24th edition of the Karate World Championships introduced impressive sport demonstrations on the tatamis. Sandra Sanchez of Spain became the queen of the event with an unforgettable performance at home. The local Karate Star put the full crowd of the WiZink Center sport hall on their feet when the 37-year-old karateka unexpectedly defeated two-time World champion and top favourite Kiyou Shimizu of Japan in the thrilling final of Female Kata.
"I tried to put all the support (from the stands) on my performance on the tatami. When the flags went up, I could not believe that I had three for me, and she had two," said Sandra Sanchez after the final.
The other big name in the female competition was Dorota Banaszczyk from Poland. Featuring in the "Cinderella story" of the championships, the Polish karateka who was placed in the 28th position of the WKF World Ranking surprised with a shocking victory in the category of Female Kumite -55kg. The 21-year-old Polish rising star defeated Jana Bitsch of Germany in the final, thus spearheading the showcase of the younger generation of athletes at the event.
"Honestly, I did not expect that this could happen! After the draw, I thought it was just impossible, especially considering that it was my first appearance at the Senior World Championships. But I did it!" said the Polish karateka after the final.
Also leading the host of up-and-coming karatekas in the tournament, Steven Da Costa of France became World champion in Male Kumite -67kg and turned out to be one of the heroes of the competition. In a roller-coaster final, the 21-year-old karateka defeated Brazil’s Vinicius Figueira by 6-5 after clinching two late impressive "Ippon" in one of the most dazzling moments of the tournament.
"It was a magnificent moment for me. I had prepared a lot for this moment, not only physically but mentally. In the final, I just tried to do what I always do, and it worked out great for me," said Steven Dacosta.
Karatekas from no less than 27 countries and four continents took home the medals of the competition in a showcase of the universality of the sport. Japan with ten medals and four golds and Iran with seven medals and two golds topped the medal table of the event.
AN EVENT TO REMEMBER
In addition to all the action from the tatamis, the 24th edition of Karate’s biggest event set a series of milestones to make it the most followed and most popular World Championships in the history of the sport. The competition gained substantial television coverage after rights were distributed to no less than 186 countries. The event had world-wide distribution since further markets also took advantage of a web-based pay-per-view broadcast service.
Moreover, for the first time in the history of the Karate World Championships, the event was animated by a spectacular mapping show. Enthusiasts of the sport enjoyed a visual and spectacular celebration of the discipline denominated "Karate Soul", and the exhibition was so much appreciated by fans on site and on WKF social media channels that it is set to change the way that the sport is perceived by its growing audience.
The Para-Karate competition completed the memorable presentation of the discipline at the event. The edition of the Para-Karate tournament in Madrid also broke all participation records with a hundred athletes from 33 countries competing at WiZink Center sports hall.
"It is always gratifying to see how much our Para-athletes have accomplished; it makes all of us Karate enthusiasts proud to attest that thank to our sport, the Para-karatekas are able to achieve unimaginable triumphs, both on and off the tatami. As president of the WKF, it is an honour to celebrate the progress of our Para-Karate competition as it was showcased in Madrid," said Antonio Espinós.
After the successful edition of the World Championships in Madrid, Karate’s biggest event heads to Dubai (UAE) where the 25th Karate World Championships will be held in 2020.
"The World Championships in Madrid have been an iconic and historic event for Karate. The outstanding development of our sport has been clearly stated here. I am sure that all that we experienced during this memorable week in Madrid is just a sign of all the great things still to come for us in the near future," added WKF President Antonio Espinós.
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