Spain strikes gold in the debut of karate at the Tokyo Olympics

Sandra Sánchez picked up the gold medal.
Sandra Sánchez picked up the gold medal. / AFP
  • Sandra Sánchez, 39, fought off a challenge from the Japanese competitor Kiyou Shimizu in the discipline of kata

In the debut of karate as an Olympic sport at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Spain's Sandra Sánchez has won the first gold in history in the discipline of kata, which consists of an exhibition of blows and defences without combat with another adversary.

But that does not mean that Sánchez, the world number one, did not have a rival, since she had to work hard to fight of the challenge of the Japanese competitor Kiyou Shimizu practicing the kata Chantanyara Kushanku.

With this Olympic gold medal, at 39 years of age, Sánchez maintains her record as the best karate fighter in the world, having achieved more than 80 podium positions. In March 2018, the World Karate Federation recognised her in its ‘all time’ rankings because she had been number one in the world for three years.

Although she did not enter Spain’s national team until she was thirty years old, it all began for Sánchez at an early age. When she was only four, her parents signed her up for dance class, but Sandra just wanted to be with her brother, who had signed up for karate.

"I always had him as a reference and, from then on, I started doing karate and never gave it up," she told the World Karate Federation last year.