Meet the Karate Combat Olympians
by Dane Curley, 2021-07-30
Karate Combat features the greatest Karatekas in the world, including five past & future fighters who will compete in Tokyo 2021 (which, perhaps confusingly, is still officially being called Tokyo 2020).
See them compete in Japan on August 5th, 6th, and 7th, then come back here to watch their Karate Combat battles!
Meet the Karate Combat Olympians:
Rafael Aghayev 🇦🇿
In addition to his Karate Combat experience, Aghayev owns FIVE Gold medals at the World Karate Championships for Kumite (bouts against an adversary), and an astounding ELEVEN Gold medals at the European Karate Championships. Even on top of these, he boasts another 21 medals to his name.
In Tokyo, Aghayev will represent his home country Azerbaijan, as he looks to add another prestigious medal to his collection: the Olympic Gold.
Tsuneari Yahiro 🇦🇺
Also fighting at 75kg (165lbs) in the Tokyo Summer Olympics, is Australia's own Tsuneari Yahiro. He is the sole representative of his nation in Karate.
Although he's previously competed at 67kg (148lbs), having won a Bronze medal at the 2013 World Games at that weight, the now-33-year-old Yahiro has put on some mass and intends to try his might in the Olympics, and in Karate Combat at his larger size.
Kalvis Kalnins 🇱🇻
Competing at 67kg (148lbs) this Olympics is future Karate Combat fighter Kalvis Kalnins, representing Latvia, and also their only karateka in the games.
Kalvis is a Gold medalist of the European Championships (with four more podium finishes there), and also a recent champion of the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus.
His new weight marks a big step up from his medal-winning size of 60kg/132lbs. Perhaps his Olympic experience will help determine whether he competes at Bantamweight or Lightweight in Karate Combat.
Andres Madera 🇻🇪
Competing at his native weight, however, is Venezuelan Andres Madera. The 67kg/148lbs karateka is another recent medalist, earning the Gold at the 2019 Pan American Games (in Peru), as well as winning the World Karate Federation's Karate 1 Premiere League championship that same year.
Madera boasts an astonishing 11 additional podium finishes at various tournaments in Kumite at 67kg, where he was the WKF's GRAND WINNER of a three-tournament circuit that took place across 2017.
Sajjad Ganjzadeh 🇮🇷
The lone heavyweight of the bunch, Sajjad Ganjzadeh competes above 84kg (185lbs+).
Sajjad is a prominent member of the prestigious Iranian Karate Team, often ranked among the very best national Karate teams. He's contributed to three World Karate Championship wins for Iran, as well as four Asian Karatedo Championships.
In addition to being a capable team player, Sajjad won the Gold medal at the World Karate Championships as recently as 2016, and altogether owns 20 podium finishes combined from his team wins and individual accomplishments.
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