The best host

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 23 Apr 2024

Egypt won six medals, including two gold, at the Karate Premier League, reports Inas Mazhar

Abdel-Aziz and Ali (blue) clinched gold
Abdel-Aziz (above) and Ali (blue) clinched gold

 

A year before the World Karate Championships scheduled for 2025 in Egypt, the host won the recent Premier League with six medals (two gold, two silver, and two bronze).

The tournament was played at the Indoor Hall of Cairo Stadium from 19- 21 April with the participation of nearly 400 athletes representing 59 countries.

“The Cairo Premier League is excellent on all levels,” said Esteban Perez, supervisor of the World Karate Federation. “Egypt is the best nation that organises international competitions and I am sure that the Egypt 2025 World Championships will be perfect.”

For the second consecutive year, the Egyptian Karate Federation, chaired by Mohamed Al-Dahrawi, held the competition.

“The Premier League brings together the best karatekas in the world, presenting incredible skills and intensity and the Egyptians are on the right path,” Al-Dahrawi said.

Egypt’s gold medals were won by Abdallah Abdel-Aziz and Ganna Ali. Abdel-Aziz won the gold medal in the men’s kumite -75kg, defeating Omer Faruk Yurur of Turkey 5-3.

As world No 1 and world and continental champion, the victory marked Abdel-Aziz’s third gold medal in three Premier Leagues this season. His consistent standout performances almost secured him the Grand Winner Award of the entire Premier League series this season in his category.

Young Egyptian Ali won the gold medal in the women’s kumite in the -50kg category with a resounding 9-0 victory over Moldir Zhangbyrbay of Kazakhstan. Ali, who won with 1:36 to play, was making her first appearance in senior competitions, impressing spectators with her skills and speed.

But the Egyptian karate community took a blow when world No 1 Youssef Badawi and Taha Tarek, who were favourites to clinch the gold, were forced to settle for the silver medal each.

World champion Badawi won the silver medal in the men’s kumite -84kg after losing the final to Jordanian Mohamed Al-Jafari. As the world championship bronze medallist, Al-Jafari continues to demonstrate his dominance in the sport while Badawi must attend conscription. “Badawi is currently doing military service and he is not training properly,” revealed Abdel-Fattah Al-Naggar, technical director of the Egyptian team.

The final of the day (men’s kumite +84kg) took the breath away from spectators. After a tactical and very difficult match, Tarek won the silver medal, losing out on the gold to Sanad Sufyani of Saudi Arabia 5-4.

It was Sufyani’s first Premier League victory, with his previous best result being a silver at Karate 1 in the 2023 Premier League. His victory in Cairo marks a career milestone as he upset Badawi, the home hero and favourite to win the Grand Winner Award.

Egypt’s two bronze medals were collected by Youssef Farag in the men’s -75kg and Hazem Mohamed in men’s +84kg. “Although the Egyptian performance was not bad, I am not happy with the two silver medals that should have been gold. The big surprise in this competition was the gold medal won by Ali who will be a star of the Egyptian team in the future,” Al-Naggar said.

Following the Cairo Premier League, karatekas are now preparing for the final stop of the Premier League season which will take place in Casablanca, Morocco, from 31 May to 2 June.

 


* A version of this article appears in print in the 25 April, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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