Their technique amazed us. Their victories impressed us. Their words and actions thrilled us. They are the heroes of a year 2021 which will remain unique in the history of karate with the Tokyo Olympics and the Dubai Worlds.

Flashback on the feats of Da Costa, Kiyuna, Prekovic, Sanchez Jaime, Arkania, Brose but also Zaretska, Goranova, Hamedi, Busa… Hajime !

By Ludovic Mauchien / Photos : WKF

The Tokyo Olympics, the Dubai World championships, the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Paris… What a year for Karate ! 2021 will undoubtedly remain in the annals of our sport.

And this, we owe to our champions who were able to amaze us, by their mind, by their vista, by their talent, by these unique moments they brought us to live.

Kiyuna’s tribute to his mother

We knew the Karateka class. We suspected his human depth. The tribute paid by Ryo Kiyuna to his mother, alone in seiza in the middle of the Budokan, will remain the strong image of 2021.

Steven Da Costa’s mind

He wasn’t at his top until the summer. He still won the Lisbon K1 in early May.

He wasn’t at his top in the preliminary round in Tokyo. He came back transcended in the afternoon to teach Assadilov and Samdan a lesson and won the Gold.

He couldn’t prepare properly for the Worlds. He arrived in Dubai exhausted following his media race thanks to his Olympic gold medal.

He was losing in the ½ final of the World championships a few seconds from the end. He launched his special, an Ura Mawashi, to beat Japan’s Nakano, 3-2. In the final, he inflicted an 8-0 to Pavlov to conquer his second World title. This is Steven Da Costa !

Eternals Arkania and Brose

They are respectively 37 and 35 years old. Gogita Arkania and Douglas Brose won their 2nd and 3rd World Championships, 7 years after their last one!

The Georgian, who qualified for the Games, flew over the competition. The Brazilian, who climbed to -75 kg in June to play the Olympic qualifying tournament in Paris, returned to the -60 kg in November to become World champion again.

Busa vs Aghayev, a final for history

They have been fighting each other for 15 years. They won everything, often one at the expense of the other. Obviously, we were impatiently awaiting and envying an Olympic final between Rafael Aghayev and Luigi Busa, for history. This will not remember the final fight but the victory of Luigi Busa in the game of cat and mouse.

Goranova, the Bulgarian umbrella

She had ranked 3rd at the 2018 Worlds but she did not appear as an Olympic medal contender. Qualified via the OQT, she swept everything in Tokyo. The young Bulgarian Ivet Goranova has become Olympic champion and a heroine in her country.

Ganjzadeh, the lucky one of the year

Sajad Ganjzadeh is an incomparable fighter. Finalist of the last 3 Worlds (gold in 2016), he belongs to the very best. And one of the very best marks is having the circumstances with them, the “luck”.

The Iranian first benefited from the rules to qualify for the Olympics. 3rd in the ranking behind his compatriot Poorshab but 1st in +84 kg (Poorshab was 2nd in -84 kg), he ended up in Tokyo.

At the Olympics, he made it to the final. He is dominated by Tareg Hamedi, 4-1. Gold was flying away. But the Saudi launches a Mawashi. KO ! The referees disqualified Hamedi. Ganjzadeh is Olympic champion.

The Big Four

What can Steven Da Costa, Ryo Kiyuna, Jovana Prekovic and Sandra Sanchez Jaime have in common ? They did the amazing ! Reigning world champions, they won the Olympic Games and the Dubai Worlds, thus accumulating 2 world championship titles and one Olympic title. Hats off !

Kiyuna, the unique

No one had done it before him, neither his Sensei Sakumoto, nor Michael Milon, nor Luca Valdesi, crowned 3 times. Ryo Kiyuna, with his new world title in Dubai, becomes the only one in history to have won 4 titles in Kata.

Zaretska and Miyahara win the double

They were world champions in 2018. Miho Miyahara and Irina Zaretska managed to retain their title in Dubai. The Azerbaijani, who narrowly missed the treble by losing in the Olympics final, managed the feat of winning without being able to warm up.

1st world medal for Thomas Scott

His 1st Worlds, he contested in 2008 in team, in 2010 in -75 kg. US Thomas Scott is a bit scratchy on tatami mats. Never easy to fight, always difficult to win. And yet, as surprising as it may seem, Thomas Scott had never won a medal at a World Championship. This has been done since Dubai and its bronze medal. Never despair !

Koji Arimoto, 9 years later

In 2012, he was crowned world champion with his partners from the Japanese team Kata, Soma and Sugin. He quit the high level in 2014. Since then, he has worked as a sensei-trainer at the JKS Dojo. In Dubai, Koji Arimoto became world champion again, this time with the Moto brothers.

The world title of Torres Garcia

Her tears of joy are voted tear of the year. She was completely overwhelmed by emotion when she became world champion in Dubai. We are talking about the Spanish Maria Torres Garcia who won her 1st world title at 24 years old.

6th consecutive world final for the French women team

They were the reigning 2-times champions and held 4 of the last 5 world titles. In Dubai, the French women team made it to the final again, a feat unique in history. But, as in 2014, they end in silver.

Champion on one knee

We are in the Women’s Team Kumite final. This is the second fight, Egypt leads 1-0 against France. If Sohila Abouismail wins, the Egyptians are world champions. Unfortunately, she hurts her knee. Rather than leaving the point of victory to the French, she continues the fight on one leg and ended up with a draw. She will become world champion.