By Laman Ismayilova
After a one-year break, the national karate team is ready to join international tournaments.
Azerbaijani karate fighters will take part in 2021 Karate 1 Premier League to be held in Istanbul on March 12-14.
A total of 865 karate fighters from 75 countries will take part in the tournament.
The national team led by the president of the Azerbaijan Karate Federation Yashar Bashirov includes 21 karate fighters trained by the head coaches Gurban Taghiyev, Denis Morozov and Vahid Ayvazov, as well as senior coaches Shahin Khudaverdiyev and Rashad Huseynov.
Firdovsi Farzaliyev (60 kg), Sultan Huseynov (60 kg), Aminagha Guliyev (60 kg), Tural Agalarzade (67 kg), Rafiz Hasanov (67 kg), Rafael Aghayev (75 kg), Farid Agayev (75 kg), Turgut Hasanov (84 kg), Panah Abdullayev (84 kg), Aykhan Mamayev (84 kg), Asiman Gurbanli (over 84 kg), Ali Jafarov (over 84 kg), Nurana Aliyeva (50 kg), Fidan Teymurova (50 kg), Ilaha Gasimova (55 kg), Madina Sadigova (55 kg), Irina Zaretska (68 kg), Farida Aliyeva (over 68 kg), etc. will compete in 2021 Karate 1 Premier League.
International referees include Jahangir Babayev, Vugar Karimov and Anar Allahverdiyev.
Notably, the national team took part in a 10-day training camp in Istanbul before the competition.
Azerbaijani karate team is considered one of the strongest teams in Europe and the World.
The National Karate Federation was founded in 1994. Three years later, it became a full member of the World Karate Federation (WKF).
WKF is the only karate federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee, whose main objective is to combine the basic style of karate under the general rules of the competition and enter into the program of the Olympic Games. It is the largest and most powerful karate organization in the world, comprising 183 countries and more than 50 million members.
Over the past few years, national karate fighters have won prestigious international tournaments, European and World championships.
Rafael Aghayev has managed to achieve all of the highest sporting victories in karate; he is multiple European Champion and repeated World Champion.
For outstanding sports achievements, he repeatedly has received awards from the leadership of the National Olympic Committee, the Youth and Sport Ministry of Azerbaijan Republic.
The President of the World Karate Federation, Antonio Espinosa, called him "Diamond of the Karate World."
Rafael Aghayev won a gold medal in karate (kumite) competitions at the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku.
He secured the gold medal thanks to a victory over Pakistani Ghulam Abbas in the 75kg division final.
Irina Zaretska is also known for her numerous victories at the international area.
She is the owner of the gold medal at the Premier League Karate1 2014 in Almere, bronze at "World Karate Cup 2014", gold at the Premier League Karate1 2015 in Istanbul, silver at the Premier League Karate1 2017, etc.
Azerbaijani karate fighters showed their best at the 29th European Championship among cadets and juniors. Rafael Aghayev (60 kg) and Jeyhun Aghasiyev (65 kg) won gold medals among cadets for the first time. Rashad Huseynov (65 kg) grabbed bronze among juniors.
Thanks to these awards, the Azerbaijani team took fourth place in the unofficial team competition, leaving behind only Spain, France and Germany.
On June 5-6, 2010, Turkey hosted the 2nd Eurasian Open Karate Championship. Azerbaijani team became the winner of the tournament.
In the individual competition, karate fighters won 1 gold medal - Afig Mustafayev (85 kg), 2 silver medals - Ramil Bilalov (85 kg) and Allahverdi Zamanov (over 90 kg), 1 bronze medal - Ramil Bagirov.
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