Turkey opened their home World Karate Federation (WKF) Karate1 Premier League event in style as the host nation secured four gold medals on day one of the competition in Istanbul.
High expectations were placed on Serap Özçelik, the current world and European champion, by the partisan crowd and she delivered, beating the Ukraine’s Kateryna Kryva to win the women’s under 50 kilograms kumite category.
Bronze medals in the division went the way of Shree Sharmin Segaran of Malaysia and Turkey’s Busra Yildiz.
More Turkish delight was guaranteed in the men’s kata competition as Ali Sofuoglu met compatriot Gokay Ilgezdi in the final.
Sofuoglu was adjudged to have given the better display of the expressive form of karate to clinch third straight gold at the Karate1 Premier League event in Istanbul having also topped the podium in 2014 and 2015.
Romania’s Adrian Guta was able to take home a bronze medal and Emre Goktas added to the Turkish haul by claiming the other third place finish on offer.
Muhammet Yilmaz then completed the hat-trick for the host nation, beating Georgia’s David Pataridze in the final of the men’s kumite under 67kg tournament.
Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Alkhathami won the only bronze medal on offer due to the lack of participants in the category.
Men’s under 75kg kumite competitor Erman Eltemur, silver medallist at this year’s European Championships in Montpellier, added a fourth crown for the home country as he overcame team-mate Sabir Aygur in another all-Turkish final.
Majed Alkhalifah followed in the footsteps of his Saudi Arabian counterpart earlier in the day by earning a bronze medal.
He was joined on the podium by pre-event favourite Rafael Aghayev of Azerbaijan, the current European champion who was not able to produce his usual form.
Spaniard Sandra Sanchez Jaime, representing the United Arab Emirates, maintained her excellent displays in this year’s Karate1 Premier League series by finishing at the top of the pile in the women’s kata discipline.
Bazardeh Negin Bagheri of Iran did enough for the silver medal but fell short in the battle for gold with Jaime, while Turkish duo Busranur Kilic and Dilara Bozan each sealed bronze medals.
The event in the Turkish city, the first major competition to take place since karate was granted a place on the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020, is due to finish tomorrow.