Written by World Karate Federation
Nearly 1700 young karatekas from 107 countries gathered in Tenerife, Spain for a record-breaking WKF World Cadet, Junior & U21 Championships. Never before in the history of the sport have an international Karate event attracted such a massive number of participants. As Karate is ready to make its debut in the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, the expansion of the sport in young ages was showcased in the thrilling five-day event.
While the championships registered a never-before-seen attendance of youngsters from all over the world, the 10th edition of the WKF World Cadet, Junior & U21 Championships was also historic since it put the sport on route to its first appearance at the Youth Olympic Games. The tournament was the first big event to qualify for Buenos Aires 2018, and participants in Junior Kumite categories set their Olympic dreams into motion on the tatamis.
Excitement ran high at Pabellon Santiago Martin sports hall, and tears of joy mixed with disappointment as young athletes struggled not only to become the new world champions but to win the points to represent their countries in the first-ever participation of Karate at the Youth Olympic Games.
"WE ARE LUCKY TO BE HERE"
"It is very important for us and for our country all that is happening here. We are very lucky to be here, fighting for our goals and trying to help the progress of Karate in our country. For Kazakhstan Karate, it’s being great. In 2013, we got two bronze medals; in 2015 we won one silver and one bronze, and now in just two days we got two golds and one bronze medals," said Sofya Berultseva from Kazakhstan who claimed the world title in the Junior Kumite Female +59kg category.
Young karatekas from Egypt and Japan demonstrated that they are ready to make an impact in Buenos Aires 2018; competitors from the two nations prevailed in Junior categories with a tally of five and four medals, respectively. Representatives from Turkey, Kazakhstan and Iran also completed notable performances after winning three honours each at the categories that are eligible to compete at the Youth Olympic Games. No less than 18 countries from four continents took home awards in the Junior competition thus showcasing the universality of the quest to the Youth Olympic Games in Karate.
"It makes me feel very proud to see so much determination and courage in our young athletes. I am sure that their tenacity, disciplineand enthusiasm will give a remarkable added value to the Youth Olympic Games," said WKF President Antonio Espinós.
JAPAN DOMINATE COMPETITION
The tournament in Tenerife was a celebrationof youth Karate inside and outside the tatamis. Powerful katas and electric kumites took over the five tatamis installed on Pabellon Santiago Martin sports hall; meanwhile, thousands of fans flooded the stands to enjoy all the action, spirit and tradition of the ancient discipline. Over five thousand people including competitors, delegation members, staff and referees have travelled this past week to the Canary Islands to participate in the massive event.
Karate Fans had the opportunity to witness Japan dominating of the competition. The representatives of the birth nation of the sport completed an impressive tournament and proved to be the main frontrunnersin underage Karate. Japanese karatekas claimed a tally of 18 medals - ten of them gold - and were followed in the final medal table by Egypt and Turkey.
"I am very happy because I was able to fulfil my dream of becoming world champion. To be the number one is very important for me and I am also very glad that I contributed to Japan being on top of the tournament," said Sakura Sawashima, gold medallist in Cadet Kumite Female +54kg. "It was a very challenging final and it has been a very hard tournament, but I am glad that I could win," added Japan’s Yuko Kozaki, winner of U21 Male Kumite -60kg.
It was an event filled with so many hopes and dreams. The young competitors, aged 14 to 20, personified all the Karate values with their emotional performances and showed the greatness of youth karate every time they stepped into the tatamis.
"It is a feeling that I cannot describe. I am so proud to represent my country in this tournament and I am very proud to be able to succeed here. I would like to dedicate this medal to my family, my friends and my country," said Saudi Arabia’s Nawaf Almalki, winner of Cadet Kumite Male -57kg.
"It is a dream come true. Ever since I was a little girl, even before I did Karate, I had the dream of becoming world champion. Today I could make it happen. When I heard the national anthem and I saw my parents and my family who are here with me, I could not control myself and I could not stop crying my eyes out. I still don’t believe it!" said Nadia Gomez of Spain, winner of U21 Kumite Female -50kg.
"The World Cadet, Junior & U21 Championships in Tenerife have been a real celebration of all the Karate values. We leave with the honour of knowing that our young competitors have inspired generations of fans in all corners of the world, and that we could show more than ever the tremendous magnitude of our sport among youngsters. We already look forward to continuing taking Karate to new heights," said WKF President Antonio Espinós.
Written by World Karate Federation