Karate1 Premier League Salzburg
February 28 – March 1
The Karate1 Premier League in Salzburg, Austria was the third Premier League of the year and was held at the Sporthalle Alpenstraße sports center. With over 600 competitors from 88 countries, Salzburg is another stop of the ticking clock to qualify for Tokyo 2020. On April 6, 2020 the first of the karate athletes will qualify for the games where the top-four ranked athletes in their respective Olympic division will finally earn their place. With an ever-depleting amount of K1 events and time, karatekas must perform their best at these last few events, including here at Salzburg.
Going into the event, Tom Scott (-75kg) was a mere 60 points away from being overtaken by sixth place Horuna Stanislav (UKR), thus making Scott’s success in Salzburg crucial. Sakura Kokumai (Female Kata) maintained her steady lead above Dilara Eltemur (TUR) vying for the fourth qualifying spot.
Sakura Kokumai once again found herself in the gold medal finals against #1 WKF and Olympic ranked Sandra Sanchez of Spain. In the finals match, Sakura Kokumai brought home her second consecutive silver medal for Team USA and secured a 1,020-point lead above TUR making it impossible to catch her in the final Olympic Point Event in Rabat.
Gakuji Tozaki had a successful first day of competition, bringing him to the bronze medal finals on Sunday against Damian Quintero. Ultimately, Tozaki took a fifth-place finish overall.
Jessica Kwong and Ariel Torres both finished in 19thoverall, and Mason Stowell placed 23rd.
Brian Irr (+84kg) had an incredible winning streak on day two, defeating Canada 1-1, Curacao 2-2, and Iran 1-0 moving him into the pool winner’s tree. In the last match of the day determining who would be going for gold, Irr defeated Georgia 3-3 earning him his spot in the gold medal final against the Ukraine on Sunday. In the finals, Irr finished in second place securing the second silver medal for Team USA.
After receiving a bye in the first round, Tom Scott (-75kg) was defeated in the first round 1-4 by Belgium. This devastating loss comes at the same time as Horuna Stanislav moved into the gold medal match eventually bringing home a silver medal. This win will bring Stanislav ahead in points taking Scott’s Olympic Qualifying spot.
In other Kumite news, Skylar Lingl (-68kg) was defeated 4-4 in the first round against Switzerland. After receiving a bye in the first round, Cirrus Lingl (+68kg) was defeated in the second round 0-4 against Tunisia. Brian Hilliard (-67kg) fell 0-2 in the first round against Belgium.
All in all, Team USA brought home 2 silver medals and a total of 3 Top 12 finishes. With the days to qualify for the Olympics numbered, athletes will continue on to Rabat from March 13-15 to continue earning points for their hopes to make it to Tokyo.