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Kiyo Shimizu, Ryo Kiyuna nab individual kata titles at Asian Games

Kyodo

Kiyo Shimizu and Ryo Kiyuna won their respective women’s and men’s Asian Games’ karate kata event golds on Saturday.

The double victory in Indonesia offered a positive start for them and their teammates ahead of the Japanese martial art’s debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Shimizu defeated Macau’s Sou Soi Lam 5-0 to give Japan’s women a gold medal in the discipline for the seventh straight time since the sport was added to the continental games’ program in 1994 in Hiroshima.

“This is a tournament like the Olympic Games, and I came here knowing that it provides an opportunity to further raise the profile of karate,” the 24-year-old defending champion told reporters after the victory. “So, in many respects, it was good that I managed to take the lead in winning the title.”

Shimizu said she dared to try a new kata, called Chibana no Kushanku, for the first time in the final to prepare herself to be able to win in any technique against her rivals at the world championships in November in Spain, and in the future.

“I think I’ve become more self-confident,” said Shimizu, ranked second in the world, on the first day of the karate competition.

Kiyuna beat Wang Yita of Taiwan 5-0, also in kata, where set techniques are performed in a solo routine, bringing home a gold medal for the first time in three editions of Asia’s quadrennial multisport event.

“I participated in the games for the first time and I am pleased that I could show a Japanese kata,” Kiyuna said. “I think I was able to perform well due to my practice.”

The 28-year-old 2016 world champion said he regards the Asian Games as somewhat close to the Olympics, so upon stepping on the tatami, he approached the competition as if it was Tokyo in 2020.

“Not only in Asia, but also in other parts of the world such as Europe and America. … I see that other competitors’ levels are going up toward the Olympics, so I will continue to practice hard,” he said.