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The unstoppable Damián Quintero fights for his first solo gold medal

Quintero dedicated his semi-final victory to his fans in Madrid.
Quintero dedicated his semi-final victory to his fans in Madrid. / EFE
  • After winning in the preliminary rounds and semi-final 5-0, the karate champion meets world number one Ryo Kiyuna in the final on Saturday

Following his dream, and doing so with the utmost concentration. That is how Malaga karate expert Damián Quintero set off on his path to the World Championships in Madrid this week. This was a competition the young man from Torremolinos couldn't miss; he is currently ranked second in the world and seventh in the classification for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

Hoping for his first solo gold at this international event, his challenge will not only be to win the medal, but to do everything possible to move up the ladder towards the Olympics. So far he has begun well: he has earned a place in the final of the championship, which takes place this Saturday from 6pm, when he will be up against his most challenging rival.

Quintero hasn't given anything away so far, and doesn't intend to. 'All or nothing' will be his attitude when he comes face to face with the number one in the world, who is also in the classification for Tokyo, the Japanese Ryo Kiyuna, who snatched the leadership of the ranking from Quintero a few months ago.

Although Damián knows he will walk away with a silver at the very least after a competition in which he has made no mistakes, he is determined that nothing less than gold will do.

The road to the final

In the first round of Tuesday morning he beat Mexican Waldo Ramírez, and in the second Ali Sofoglu from Turkey, one of the most complicated rivals he could meet. It was a real battle for second or fourth place in the world ranking, which ended with another victory for Quintero.

After that, he faced Colombian David Contreras and, in the final battle, Enzo Montarello from France. It didn't matter who his rival was, the score was always the same: 5-0. This demonstrates that he is in good physical shape, and his exclusive preparation for this event over several months has paid off. He turned down all other chances to compete, because he is focusing single-mindedly on reaching the top of the podium.

After easily winning these four earlier rounds, Quintero gained a place in the semi-final, still determined not to lose a single point. An impressive 5-0 against Venezuelan Antonio Díaz, currently number six in the world, was more than enough for him to classify.

This is his first final at this event, and just one demanding duel faces him now. Nobody should expect to see him until then."I'm shutting myself away from the world until all this is over, focusing on my being and what lies ahead; he is a very challenging rival," he says. "My strategy has been good so far, and now I need to concentrate. For these three days I need to be relaxed, but I also have to keep training."