Germany, Italy Lead the Way at European Karate Championships

Damien Quintero
Germany brought home the most gold medals, with four, at the European Karate Championships Sunday, in Guadalajara, Spain, while Italy captured the most overall medals with 11.

Germany was lead by its powerful women's kumite squad, who captured the team fighting title along with three individual championships as Shara Hubrich took the 50 kg class, Reem Khamis the 61 kg class and Johanna Kneer earned the 68+ kg division. Ukraine won the men's team kumite title lead by 75 kg champion Andrii Zaplitnyi.

Though men's team kata was won by Turkey and women's team kata by Italy, host country Spain continued to dominate in solo kata. Damian Quintero earned his seventh men's individual kata gold performing the "ohan dai" form. Meanwhile, despite the retirement of Olympic gold medalist and seven-time European women's kata champion Sandra Sanchez, Paola Garcia stepped in for Spain to win the title this year with her "chatanyara kushanku" kata.

The tournament wasn't without controversy though, as karateka from Kosovo withdrew after being prevented from competing under their flag. Kosovo experienced similar problems earlier this year at a junior championship in Cyprus. Spain and Cyprus are two of the five European nations that don't recognize Kosovo's independence.

The World Karate Federation seemed to lay the blame for the withdrawals on Kosovo's government. Despite the International Olympic Committee's and the WKF's recognition of Kosovo, the WKF continues to hold championship events in countries that won't allow Kosovo's flag.

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