By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Azerbaijani karateka Irina Zaretska (-68 kg) has won the tournament Karate 1 Premier League tournament, which was held on September 6-8 in Nippon Budokan, indoor arena located in Tokyo, Japan.
The Karate 1 Premier League is the most important league event in the world of karate. It comprises a number of the most prominent karate competitions and endeavors to bring together the best karate athletes in the world.
At the preliminary stages of the tournament, Zaretska defeated karatekas from Serbia and Brazil. In the quarterfinal, a Greek karateka could not do anything against the Azerbaijani athlete.
Then Zaretska beat Austria’s Alisa Buchinger in the semi-final. In the final of Female Kumite -68 kg, the Azerbaijani athlete defeated Alizee Agier of France, 3-0.
Thus, after almost a year away from the top of the podium of major international events, Zaretska won her first gold medal since her victory at karate’s biggest stage in Madrid in 2018. Zaretska said she feels happy because she finally got to win gold after a long period.
"This year I could only win two silver medals (in Dubai and Istanbul) so I am happy that I finally won today. During the match, I saw my opponent’s mistakes, and fortunately, I did my best to take advantage of this situation," Zaretska noted.
Menwhile, the five-time world champion, Azerbaijan’s Rafael Aghayev won a silver award. Having passed one after another all his opponents, Aghayev faced Japanese Ken Nishimura in the gold medal bout. The fight ended in a 0-0 draw, but the judges gave the victory to the Japanese representative.
Another athlete from Azerbaijan Aykhan Mamayev (-84 kg) took third place. In semi-final Ryutaro Araga from Japan beat him 1-0 in the men’s Kumite event. In the fight for the bronze, Mamayev beat Kazakh karateka Igor Chekmarev.
About 700 competitors from 79 countries were registered to participate in Karate 1 Premier League. The Tokyo tournament is the sixth of the Premier League series. The last two competitions from this series will be held in Moscow (October 4-6) and Madrid (from November 29 to December 1).
Over the past few years, Azerbaijani karate athletes have many times been the winners of the prestigious international tournaments, European and World Championships.
Currently, such karate stars as the repeated World and European Champion, winner of the World Games Rafael Aghayev, World Champions Israfil Shirinov, Aykhan Mamayev, European Champions Parviz Abdulkarimov, Jeyhun Aghasiyev, Rustam Madatov, Fayyaz Ildirimzade, Niyazi Aliyev and Asiman Gurbanli, bronze medalists of European Championship Amal Atayev, Yusif Jafarov, Shahin Atamov, Rashad Huseynov and Ilaha Gasimova are members of the national team.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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