A decade ago, when someone had told that, the game of Karate-Do will be played in Olympics, all would imagine that to be a mere uncertainty and a herculean task. But, as time progresed, the dreams of all karatekas turned out to be a reality. And here we are, at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, seeing pictures of world class karatekas showing their prowess at the pinnacle event. Who ever thought that a karateka will share the same platform with the Usan Bolts or the Michael Phelps at the global event. Thanks to the efforts of World Karate Federation (WKF), this dream was turned into a reality.

Although, we missed out some simply amazing and astounding Asian players from Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and many more due to the very tough qualification rules and regulations set by WKF, I must say, their presence would have electrified the Nippon Budokan Stadium in Tokyo. We missed them a lot !!!

In the words of the President of Karate Do Association of Bengal (KAB), Hanshi Premjit Sen, he says, “There are people who feel that participating in the Olympics is a cake-walk. Let me tell you, it’s not. Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia couldn’t even qualify for the same. It is a very tough ranking and qualification process by the WKF. I have participated in many WKF Championships, AKF Championships, Karate 1 Premiere League competitions, etc as a WKF Referee & Judge. Let me tell you, it’s really a tough job to qualify for the big events like the Olympics.”

05.08.2021 – The karate events kicked off in a grand style. With the Female Kata Category which was followed by -67kgs Male Kumite and -55kgs Women Kumite. I must say, what I witnessed was shere class and prowess by all the karatekas. The 39 year old Spanish veteran, Sandra Sanchez outplayed her Japanese counterpart, Kiyou Shimizu, to win the Gold Medal in the Female Kata Category. Although the former had to be satisfied with the Silver Medal. MSG Lau (Hong Kong) and Viviana Bottaro (Italy) got Bronze Medals. In the -67kgs Male Kumite Category, Steven D’Costa (France) won the Gold Medal beating Eray Samdan of Turkey, who won the Silver Medal. The Bronze Medal winners were Abdel Rahaman Almasatfa of Jordan and Darkhan Assadilov of Kazakhstan. In the Women’s -55kgs Kumite Category, Ivet Goranova of Bulgaria won the Gold Medal by beating her opponent, Anzelika Terliuga of Ukraine by 5-1. The Bronze Medal was won by Tzuyun Wen of of Chinese Taipei and Bettina Plank of Austria.

06.08.21 – Grit, determination and hardwork – these are the mantras that leads to success in life. And, that is what we saw on the second day of the Karate event.

A Champion, Antonio Diaz (Venezuela) at the age of 41 bows out in the Bronze Medal bout. A new era of young karatekas, in Ali Sofuoglu (Turkey) and Ariel Torres (USA) winning Bronze Medal. Damian Quentero (Spain), proved why he is the best by winning his first Silver Medal at the #Olympics. Last but not the least, Ryo Kiyuna (Japan), the Gold Medallist, proved that why Japan felt proud in hosting the game of Karate for the first time in Olympic history.

We also saw a resurgence in Luigi Busa (Italy), who defeated his favorite opponent, twice in a day, Rafael Aghayev (Azerbaijan) to win the Gold Medal in the -75kgs Male Kumite. Stanislav Horuna of Ukraine and Karoly Gabor Harspataki of Hungary got the Bronze Medals. In the Women’s -61kgs Kumite Category, Jovana Precovic of Serbia got the Gold Medal by defeating her opponent Xiaoyan Yon (China) in Hantei. Giana Lotfy (Egypt) and Merve Coban (Turkey) won the Bronze Medals.

My love, respect and passion for this game has increased more and more, after seeing Ryo Kiyuna bowing the Tatami with respect in Sheza, when he was declared the winner. Simply amazing scenes at the Nippon Budokan Stadium in Tokyo.

07.08.21 – And the fairy tale is over today. A dream which all karatekas in the world have ever thought of fulfilling; playing in the Olympics.

Alike a fairy tale, the last Karate – Do match at the Tokyo Olympics ended in a way that no one expected of. A kick from Tareg Hamedi (Saudi Arabia) on Sajad Ganjzadeh (Iran), earned the former a Hansoku and a Silver Medal. Sajad was taken off the Tatami in a stretcher, and hence was declared the Gold Medal winner in the +75kgs Kumite Category for Male. Ugar Aktus (Turkey) and Ryutaro Agata (Japan) got the Bronze Medal.

In the Female’s +61kgs Kumite Category, it was only a matter of 2 Yukos that earned Feryal Abdelaziz (Egypt) a Gold Medal, while her opponent Iryana Zaretska (Azerbaijan) got the Silver Medal. Sofya Berultseva (Kazakhstan) and Li Gong (China) got Bronze Medals.

But the most inspiring player of the day was Hamideh Abbasali of Iran, who inspite of a knee surgery, dreamt to play in the Olympics. Simply amazing sportsman spirit shown by this fighter. Felt sad for Jonathan Horne (Germany) who was carried out of the Tatami in the stretcher too after his hard fought matches.

As we bid adieu to the Tokyo Olympics 2020, these memories are going to stay throughout a lifetime. Atleast, I would say in the years to come, that I saw the game of karate played at the pinnacle of all the sporting events, the Olympics.

Expecting to dream of another fairy tale at the Paris Olympics in 2024. Till then keep on the practice going on always.