Aykhan Mamayev won the men’s Kumite -84kg class and Irina Zaretska took the women’s -68kg gold on a day to remember for Azerbaijani Karate fans. Spain’s Sandra Jaime Sanchez and Damian Hugo Quintero also took golds in the Kata.
“I can’t even speak right now,” said an emotional Zaretska afterwards. “I just want to thank the Azerbaijani federation that selected me for these Games, my coaches and everyone who supported me, everybody who is here.”
It wasn’t just the home favourites that were feeling the pressure of the event. “My hands are still shaking because of the tension on the mat during the match and because of all the feelings you go through,” said Jaime Sanchez as she came to terms with her win. “A gold medal at this competition is all I had dreamed of.”
In the men’s -84kg Kumite, the experienced Quintero defeated Italian Mattia Busato in the final match, and was quick to praise the fans inside the arena for creating an electrifying occasion.
“The atmosphere is amazing. Karate is not an Olympic sport and it is the first time we are here at the European Games. The people in Azerbaijan love Karate and they are very supportive.”
Enes Erkan of Turkey won the men’s Kumite +84kg gold, defeating Germany’s Jonathan Horne.
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