Turkish fighters were on form as the WKF Premier League1 event opened in Istanbul ©WKF

Home fighters were to the fore on the opening day of the latest leg of the World Karate Federation (WKF) Karate1 Premier League in Istanbul, with two European Games champions among five Turkish winners.

Serap Özçelik, who added gold in the inaugural continental event in Baku to European titles in 2011 and 2012, was dominant in the women's under 50 kilograms division, beating compatriot Bahar Ersekar in the final.

Bettina Plank, the Austrian who lost to Özçelik in the European Games final, had to be content with bronze on this occasion, while the other third-place was taken by Mai Elattar of Egypt.

Similar success was achieved by Burak Uygur, the 20-year-old Baku 2015 winner who is one of the rising stars of the sport, after he overcame another Egyptian in Hegazy Omar in the men's under 67kg kumite final.

In the absence of France's European Games champion Lucie Ignace, Baku silver medallist Merve Çoban took gold in the under 61kg division, overcoming Slovakia's Ingrida Suchankova in the final. 

Turkish team-mate Alayna Sezer and Finland's Emma Aronen took the two bronze medals.

Serap Özçelik followed up her gold medal at June's European Games in Baku in perfect fashion
Serap Özçelik followed up her gold medal at June's European Games in Baku in perfect fashion ©WKF

Other home titles were won Busra Tosan in the women's under 55kg event, who beat Spaniard Cristina Ferrer Garcia in the final, while Ali Sofuoglu claimed gold in the kata competition, in which athletes perform a specific variety of moves rather than spar with a rival.

He claimed the spoils ahead of France's William Geoffray and compatriot Cengizhan Koca.

It was not just Turkey who triumphed in Istanbul.

Spain's Sandra Sanchez added women's kata gold to her European Games title, getting the better of two French rivals, Sandy Scordo and Alexandra Feracci.

Angelo Crescenzo of Italy beat Turkey's Eyup Guler in the men's under 60kg kumite final, while Henri Vekua of Georgia won the under 75kg event after beating another Turk in Ahmet Uygur Sabir in the gold medal match.

Action is due to continue in Istanbul tomorrow, where competition will take place in the four remaining kumite categories while male and female team kata events are also scheduled.

Three more stages on the Premier League circuit are due take place after this year, in Hanua, Germany, on September 26 and 27, in Austrian city Salzburg from October 17 and 18 and in Okinawa, Japan, on November 28 and 29.

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