The Žatika Sports Hall in Poreč is ready to welcome the European karate athletes hoping to take home the 2021 title. At the beginning of the competitions, we are going to watch some extraordinary athletes, legends, so be sure you won’t miss this exciting first day. 

Kata Individual 

Two names resonants more than others when talking about the Kata category. After taking the gold medal at the World Championships in Madrid in 2018., Spain’s Sandra Sanchez maintained her outstanding level at home to win the continental title in Guadalajara. It was her fifth European title while her national colleague Damián Quintero achieved his sixth at the same competition. He will surely be one of the top notch Kata athletes to watch in Poreč.

Sandra Sanchez, photo: WKF

On the other hand, it will be interesting to see if Italy’s Viviana Bottaro can win a gold medal after three silvers at the last European editions and double bronze at the World Championships. Three previous European Championships and three silver medals also have Turkish Ali Sofuoglu, so we should keep eyes on his performances, too.

Some other prominent names that are competing in Poreč are Bozan Dilara (TUR), the bronze medalist from the last two European editions and with an excellent Premier League season, as well as Italian Mattia Busato with 5 bronze European and 2 bronze World medals in the last five years. 

Female +68kg

If you remember the last edition of the European Karate Championships, then you surely know about the final fight between Spain’s Laura Palacio Gonzales and Greece’s Eleni Chatziliadou. Laura surprised her opponent and World champion and took top place on the podium in her own country. Those two girls will undoubtedly be interesting to watch as well as the performance of Lucija Lesjak, Croatian jewel and current World U21 champion, European U21 bronze medalist and passionate karateka venturing at her first senior continental competition.

Eleni Chatziliadou, photo: Gökhan Taner

We must not forget France’s Nancy Garcia and Portugal’s Oliviera Anna Rita, young karatekas who, like Lucia, have yet to prove themself on a senior level. 

Although mentioned athletes will be expected to perform well, we may expect some upset from Antunović Hana (SWE), and Akyol Hocaoglu Meltem, bronze medalists at the last World Championship in this category.

Male +84kg

This category will be an entertaining one with current World and European Champion Jonathan Horne leading the way. Horne claimed his sixth continental crown at the last Euro Karate edition after defeating Serbia’s Slobodan Bitević. Bitević as well as current bronze medalists, Azerbaijan’s Asiman Gurbanli and Croatian’s Anđelo Kvesić, will have a difficult task at usurping the Horne since he showed impressive fights at Premier Leagues and took medals. 

Jonathan Horne, photo: WKF

On the other hand, Alparslan Yamanoglu, current bronze World medalist is surely coming from Turkey to claim the throne. When talking about young hopes, France’s Mehdi Filali is U21 World vice-champ competing at the senior European level for the third time but still didn’t pass the elimination phase. 

Female -68kg

Swiss karateka Elena Quirici took silver in the 2019 European Championships as well as bronze at the World Championships and wants to experience the feeling of getting on the highest throne again. Alizee Agier of France defeated her in the European final and took the first European crown and spotlight of the event. 

Elena Quirici

A serious threat for these girls is coming from Azerbaijan’s karateka Irina Zaretska, current World champion who was left without the medal at the last Euro Karate but since then has been winning 9 medals at the 13 Premier League tournaments and shows no sign of slowing down.

Experienced three-time European and one-time World bronze medalist Marina Raković from Montenegro and Italian Silvia Smeraro (also current bronze medalist) can mess up their plans. World and European U21 vice-champion, Russian Victoria Isaeva will surely be interesting to watch in her first senior European Championship.

Male -84kg

With a vast amount of world-class names including current and former World Champions, performances in this category will be on fire. 

Ugur Aktas, photo: Gökhan Taner

Ugur Aktas from Turkey is a triple European Champion in the -84kg category. He is the winner of the 2017 and 2016 titles as well as the last edition of the European Championship in Guadalajara, where he defeated Belarus’ Anton Isakau by 6-0 in a convincing performance. It was the last medal won by Anton since then. 

Current World champion and the brightest Croatian star Ivan Kvesić will try to do his best and win the gold medal at this event. Kvesić currently takes sixth place in the Olympic standings and is in a qualifying position, but his category is one of the three divisions yet to be confirmed, with six athletes fighting for four Olympic spots.  

We must not forget Nikola Malović from Montenegro who climbed the bronze throne together with Kvesić at the Euro Karate 2019.  

Female -61kg

There is no doubt the Female Kumite -61kg category will bring some sensational contests. First of all, eyes are set on Turkey’s Merve Coban, the champ from the last edition of the European Championships and an experienced karateka with two additional European silvers and two bronze medals. Slovenian’s Tjaša Ristič fought Merve in the finals and took silver so it will be interesting to see if she can suppress her result. 

Tjaša Ristič

Furthermore, two-time World team champion, France’s Leila Heurtault is looking for double gold in Poreč, individually and as a team. The same ambitions have the experienced and much-awarded Ukrainian karateka Anita Serogina. On her hunt for gold is also Serbian karateka Jovana Preković, current World champion in this category. With the return of the Karate Premier League, she’s been on a roll winning several medals and showing exceptional shape. 

Last but not least is the Croatian hope Ana Lenard, the bronze medalist from the latest World Championship will look for her opportunity in this tough competition.

Male -75kg

The clash of legends featuring multiple-awarded karatekas Luigi Busa of Italy and Rafael Aghayev of Azerbaijan ended with the title going to the Italian ace at the last European Karate Championships in Spain. This was his fifth crown, also winning the ones in 2007., 2012., 2014., and 2017. Fun fact – those two legends met in the finals of the European Karate Championships in Zagreb 2009. Rafael prevailed in that match and it will be interesting to see who will win this year’s edition.

Luigi Busa, photo: Gökhan Taner

We should pay attention to England’s Joe Kellaway, the bronze medalist from the Euro Karate in Span and Stanislav Horuna, one of the most followed and admired karatekas in the world and current European bronze medalist. Horuna is currently placed in fifth place at the Olympic standings and is one of the most well-known athletes on the international stage. Great hopes are placed in the Croatian’s Enes Garibović, U21 European champion who already collected some experience in the senior scene. 

All the performances and fights are available live on the WKF YouTube channel. Click HERE to watch it.

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© 56th European Senior Karate Championships
Croatia, Porec - Žatika Sport Centre - May 19 - 23, 2021