Jovana Preković, left, was among the stars on the second day of the Karate World Championships ©WKF

Olympic champions Jovana Preković and Steven Da Costa lived up to their pre-event billing as they produced superb performances to reach their respective finals and maintain their pursuit of retaining their titles at the Karate World Championships here today.

Serbia’s Preković will face Anita Serogina in the women’s under-61 kilograms gold medal bout, while North Macedonia’s Emil Pavlov stands between Frenchman Da Costa and a second straight men’s under-67kg crown.

Their displays came on a day where one athlete, American Trinity Allen, was reinstated to the final while she was in hospital after initially losing the semi-final to Jennifer Warling of Luxembourg because of injury.

Defending world champions struggled yesterday - all except for Irina Zaretska of Azerbaijan failed to qualify for the finals - but the other two in action today, Miho Miyahara of Japan and Italy’s Angelo Crescenzo, had no such trouble.

Preković looked in good form in the early rounds, including in a comprehensive win over Poland’s under-55kg world champion Dorota Banaszczyk, who made the step up in weight for these World Championships.

But the Serbian was made to work hard for her place in Saturday’s (November 21) final by Slovakia's Ingrida Suchankova in the last four before claiming a 3-2 victory.

European Games gold medallist Serogina overcame Pan American champion Haya Jumaa of Canada after she was awarded the bout by the judges.

Da Costa, who has the honour of being the first Olympic gold medallist in karate, fought back from 2-0 down to oust Japanese rising star Soichiro Nakano in his semi-final.

The double European champion will take on Pavlov, who stunned Egyptian world number two Ali Elsawy in the quarter-finals, following his victory over Ali Yves Martial Tadissi of Hungary.

Two-time world champion Douglas Brose, right, will take on Angelo Crescenzo for the under-60kg title ©WKF
Two-time world champion Douglas Brose, right, will take on Angelo Crescenzo for the under-60kg title ©WKF

There was controversy in the women’s under-55kg category as Allen - who beat Olympic champion Ivet Goranova of Bulgaria earlier in the competition - led Warling 5-1 in their semi-final before she suffered an arm injury.

The judges gave the semi-final bout to Warling due to Allen’s injury but the United States team protested, believing the athlete from Luxembourg had caused the incident.

In a rarity at major karate events, the judges overturned the decision and deemed Warling responsible, sending Allen through to the final and condemning the Luxembourgian to tomorrow’s repechage round.

Ahmal Youssef of Egypt awaits for Allen in the final, should the American be deemed fit to compete.

Crescenzo edged out surprise under-60kg semi-finalist Enzo Berthon of France, ranked 119 in the world, 3-2 to ensure he will get the chance to retain the title he first clinched in Madrid three years ago.

The Italian will go up against two-time world champion Douglas Brose of Brazil, seeking a third crown at the age of 35, in the final.

Brose proved too strong for Abdel Ali Jina of Morocco in the semi-final as he recorded a 3-1 win.

Miyahara booked her place in her third consecutive world under-50kg final thanks to an 8-3 triumph over Morocco's Chaimae Elhayti, who had scored ippon early on before being eventually outclassed by the Japanese star.

She will clash with world number three Shara Hubrich of Germany, who landed a crucial waza-ari in the dying seconds of her semi-final against Kazakhstan's Moldir Zhangbyrbay to reach the final.