0153 GMT May 09, 2021
Iran’s captain Zabihollah Poursheib hailed the country’s performance at the Karate 1 Premier League in Istanbul, Turkey, vowing to work his socks off to seal a spot at next July’s Tokyo Olympics.
The first round of the competition saw Iran’s five-man kumite team grab three medals – including a -84kg gold for Poursheib – in its first international appearance in over a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sajjad Ganjzadeh also won the +84kg gold with Ali-Asghar Asiabari taking the bronze at the -75kg contests, as Iran finished atop the men’s standings.
In the women’s competitions, Rozita Alipour had to settle for a -61kg silver after an ankle injury forced her out of the final, while Sara Bahmanyar beat Kateryna Kryva of Ukraine 4-0 to claim a -50kg bronze.
“The majority of the high-profile karatekas took part at the competition, which made it a top-notch event,” said the three-time world gold medalist, adding, “All -84kg contenders – except for Japanese Ryutaro Araga – were present in Istanbul, and I had to beat some world and European medalists to win the gold.”
Poursheib said it was “an overall decent result” for the Iranian karate, given the one-year postponement of all tournaments.
Next for the Iranians is a trip to Lisbon for the second round of the Karate 1 Premier League, starting April 30.
The excitement will be even higher in the Portuguese capital as the competition will serve as qualifications for the Tokyo Games.
“I’ll be putting in all my efforts from today to seal the quota for Tokyo. Of course, the European Championships [in May] will also play a part in deciding the participants for the Games,” said Poursheib.
Iran has already booked a couple of places for Tokyo.
Eight-time Asian champion Hamideh Abbas-Ali will represent the country at the women’s +68kg kumite contests, with Bahman Asgari, a winner of four world golds, taking part at the men’s -75kg bouts.