By Gary Anderson

Italy and France finished the Karate Premier League series with three Grand Winners each ©WKFThe Walserfeld Halle in Austrian city Salzburg was the setting for the conclusion of the World Karate Federation Premier League series and saw 12 athletes crowned this season's overall Grand Winners.

The two days of action saw 595 competitors from 52 nations battling it out for honours and it was Italy and France that emerged as the leading nations after eight stops on this year's series.

Italians Terryana D'Onofrio, Sara Cardin and Luca Maresca confirmed their status as Grand Winners following events in Salzburg, as did the French trio of Alexandra Recchia, Vu Duc Minh Dack and Lucie Ignace.

Despite not appearing in the Austrian city, D'Onofrio's lead at the top of the female kata standings was sufficient to see her crowned as overall series winner, a fact helped with the absence of nearest challenger Sandy Scordo of France.

Yaiza Martin of Spain won the kata final in Salzburg after overcoming Serbian Marija Madzarevic.

Cardin ended the series in style as she was crowned women's kumite under 55 kilogram Grand Winner by securing victory over Croatia's Jelena Kovacevic in the final.

Despite losing out to Latvian Kalvis Kalinins in the men's kumite under 60kg decider, Maresca had done enough to clinch the overall prize.

Similar to D'Onofrio, Frenchwoman Alexandra Recchia's absence from Salzburg did not affect her chances of taking overall series victory in the kumite under 50kg class as she held an unassailable lead coming into the event.

German Duygu Bugur ended the season in style by taking the win in today's final against Nurane Aliyeva of Azerbaijan.

Twelve Grand Winners were crowned in Salzburg as the Premier League series concluded ©WKFTwelve Grand Winners were crowned in Salzburg as the Premier League series concluded ©WKF

Recchia's compatriot Vu Duc Minh Dack led the men's kata standings coming into the weekend and despite only picking up a bronze in Salzburg, he took the overall title.

Italian Mattia Busato and Spain's Hugo Quintero contested the final with Busato coming out on top.

Ignace confirmed her statues as the leading athlete in the women's kumite under 61kg category as she defeated compatriot Lucile Breton in the Salzburg final to become a Grand Winner.

In the other two women's kumite divisions, Russian Inga Sheroziya and Switzerland's Fanny Clavien got their hands on the overall series titles in the under 68kg and over 68kg classes respectively.

A bronze medal for Sheroziya in her final outing was enough to maintain her lead at the top of the standings, while today's gold medal was claimed by Austrian Alisa Buchinger who overcame Elena Quirici of Switzerland.

Vera Kovaleva of Russia took advantage of Clavien's absence to claim the over 68kg gold with a win over Croatia's Masa Martinovc, but the Swiss woman had amassed enough points over the course of the year to take the overall title.

Stefan Pokorny of Austria delighted home fans by clinching gold in the men's kumite under 67kg final with victory over compatriot Thomas Kaserer, but it was the absent Hungarian Dome Szegedi who was really celebrating as he was crowned the overall Grand Winner in the category.

Athletes will now be turning their attention to the upcoming World Championships in Germany next month ©WKFAthletes will now be turning their attention to the upcoming World Championships in Germany next month ©WKF

It was a similar story for Turkey's Serkan Yagci and Enes Erkan as they secured the under 75kg and over 84kg crowns respectively despite not competing in Salzburg.

On the day it was Latvian Ruslans Sadikovs who closed out the season on a high after defeating Hungary's Gabor Harspataki in the under 75kg final, while victory for Germany's Jonathan Horne over Serbian Slobodan Bitevic was not enough to see him usurp Erkan at the top of the over 84kg standings.

Dutchman Timothy Petersen's victory in the under 84kg final over Ukraine's Illya Nikulin was similarly in vein as he could not overhaul Macedonian Berat Jakupi who claimed the Grand Winner's prize.

Kata team honours went the way of Serbia in the women's competition, while Morocco took home the men's honours.

Attentions will now be firmly fixed on the upcoming World Championships scheduled to take place in German city Bremen from November 5 to 9.

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