Return to Japan – The Premier League in Fukuoka
The Premier League in Fukuoka has become one of the most anticipated and significant tournaments in the karate world.
Over 300 athletes from 47 countries competed in Japan, with established leaders setting the tone. Among the participants were athletes from Ukraine, Sweden and Australia using Budo-Nord equipment.
Competitions in Japan always have a special status. The founders of karate on the leading roles in the world, competitions in the Land of the Rising Sun guarantee an unforgettable spectacle. The Premier League is unimaginable without Japan, which is why the 2018 and 2019 series were also held in Tokyo. But then the pandemic somewhat disrupted the plans, and now the country has fully returned to world karate with a stage in Fukuoka. Considering that last year Tokyo hosted the historic Olympics for our sport, the participants returned to Japan with special feelings.
Speaking directly about the course of the fight, the Swede Anna-Johanna Nilsson (61 kg) stopped a step away from the podium, taking fifth place. She finished second in her group, starting with a one-point loss to tatami host Maya Suzuki. But in subsequent meetings, Nilsson defeated Oleksandra Sholokhova from Ukraine (2:0) and Nikol Tsengel from Kazakhstan (3:0). Taking second place in the quartet, the Swedish athlete reached the quarterfinals. At this stage, she lost to the German Reem Khamis (1:2), who reached the final and opened the opportunity for Anna-Johanna’s breakthrough to bronze. In the fight for third place, Nilsson lost to Anita Segotina from Ukraine, finishing fifth.
Another Swede, Zarei Loren initially fell into a shortened subgroup of three karatekas. In this situation, it was necessary to show the maximum result in order to reach the playoffs, but Lauren lost in the first match to Schaerer Maya from Switzerland with a difference of two points – 2:4. Despite the victory in the next duel over Abouriche Louiza from Algeria (3:0), the Swedish karateka was no longer able to compete for victory in the group and took second place in the top three.
In turn, Ukrainian Halyna Melnyk (68 kg) had an unsuccessful tournament. True, in the first fight she had a chance to defeat Venera Zhaxybayeva, but the referee’s decision was in favor of the representative of Kazakhstan. Then Melnyk lost to Chinese Gong Li (0:7) and Slovak Sara Krivdova (0:1), becoming the last in the quartet.
Another Budo-Nord karateka, Hannah Sullivan from Australia, had two fights in Fukuoka. First, she lost to the Japanese Yuzuki Sawae (0:6), and then lost to the Spaniard Maria Torres Garcia – 1:5.
In the men’s category, Ukrainian Denys Kopytko (68 kg) started the Premier League with a tough fight against Fahad Alkhathami from Saudi Arabia. The match ended with the score 2:2. But in the next fight he lost to the owner of the tatami ugo Kozaki (0:3).
Another Ukrainian karateka Andrii Toroshanko (84 kg) also limited himself to two fights in Fukuoka. At the start, he lost to Croatian Ivan Kvesic (0:7). Toroshanko then lost to Egyptian Hantey Mohamed Ramadan, ending the tournament.
The tone at the tournament was predictably taken by the Japanese, who won five gold medals. Of particular note is Hikaru Ono’s victory in the kata. Grand Winner proved once again that she is one of the best in her role.
The next and final tournament of the 2023 Karate1 Premier League season will take place from 8 to 10 September in Dublin, the capital of Ireland.
Read more about Premier League record – 383 karatekas from 56 countries