Azerbaijan’s karateka Irina Zaretska, current World champion 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. Before Azerbaijan, she represented Ukraine and made the change 6 years ago. Additionally, she is a current World champion in the -68kg category, a former European champion, #1 ranked in her category in the world and she will represent the Azerbaijan national team in the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

What drives her to work and achieve all those results from day to day? 

“I want to be the absolute best and maintain my leading positions all the time”, she shared.

Also, she was taught that if you want to be good at something – you have to do it many times and really enjoy it. The results will follow. 

Irina’s karate story started when she was three years old. At that time there were not many girls doing karate so she had to compete against boys. One of her earliest memories is her standing on the top of the podium happy and smiling with two boys standing beside me sad and crying. Since then, she won so many medals that she has two places to keep them: “I keep my World, European and K1 medals at home on a medal hanger handmade by my husband. The rest of the medals from my childhood my mothers keeps for me in a very big and heavy box.”

And she doesn’t plan to stop. The goal for this year is to win two more medals – at the European Championships and the Olympic Games: “The Olympic Games are the boss level in the Karate game. So I need to win it!”

Before the competition she eats sweets which help her get in the right mood – she is very energetic. Also, she loves the karate community and missed it during the karate competition pause: “We miss karate so much! So I look forward to seeing you all again at #karateporec2021! Good luck to all my friends!”

Croatia is not an unknown ground for her since she was travelling here recently: “It was very hard to go out because of the pandemic, but I did enjoy going to Zagreb national TV channel. Recently I saw some pictures of my teammates from Poreč and I couldn’t wait to join them in this amazing city.” If you are interested in Irina’s travels, training and everyday activities, you should check out her vlog. 

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Arawaza 750 x 750
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© 56th European Senior Karate Championships
Croatia, Porec - Žatika Sport Centre - May 19 - 23, 2021