By Laman Ismayilova
Azerbaijani female karate fighter Irina Zaretskaya (68 kg) has won a silver medal at the WKF Karate1 Series A competition held in Istanbul.
At the start, Zaretskaya defeated Luana Debatini (Belgium, 8:0), Cheryl Murphy (the U.S., 1:0) and Kyriaki Kido (Greece, 4:0). In the quarter finals, the 2018 World Champion defeated Slovakian Miroslav Kopunova with a minimal score.
She also left no chances for Japanese Kayo Kaneya in the semifinals. The fight ended in a goalless draw, but the referees ultimately expressed their preference for Zaretskaya.
In the final, the Azerbaijani karate fighter was defeated by Marina Rakovich from Montenegro with a score of 2: 4.
The leader of the men's national team, multiple world champion Rafael Aghayev (75 kg) ended his participation in the Istanbul tournament due to injury. Having won four fights in a row, Aghayev failed to complete the fifth one due to injury.
It is noteworthy that 1,813 karate fighters from 102 countries took part in the WKF Karate1 Series A. At the beginning of June, the Azerbaijani team will take part in the Premier League category tournament to be held in Shanghai, China.
During the Istanbul tournament, licensing points were drawn for selection for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. Irina Zaretskaya and Rafael Aghayev are the main candidates for the Olympic Games. In the Olympic rating, Zaretskaya ranks fourth with 3,172.5 points, and Rafayel Aghayev ranks second, having 3,660 points.
It should be noted that Irina Zaretskaya won gold medals at the First European Games in 2015 and the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games. For her great merits in karate, Zaretskaya was awarded the Order of Glory under the Order of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
Rafael Aghayev, nicknamed "the Diamond of the Karate World", has managed to achieve all of the highest sporting victories in karate.
For outstanding sports achievements, he has repeatedly received awards from the leadership of the National Olympic Committee, the Youth and Sport Ministry of Azerbaijan.
He is a five-time World Champion and eleven-time European Champion in his discipline. The 34-year-old karate fighter won a gold medal at the 53rd EKF Senior Championships in Novi Sad, Serbia, in May 2018.
The National Karate Federation of Azerbaijan was established in 1994. Since 1997, the Federation became a full member of WKF (World Karate Federation), the world's largest karate organization that unites more than 50 million members of the 180 countries of the world.
Azerbaijani karate fighters take part at the European and World championships. At present, the national team consists of multiple World and European champions.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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