Saturday 20 November will go down in the Spanish karate history books, partly thanks to two Malaga karatekas who are already the province's most successful export in this sport. María Torres, international medalist and Iberoamerican champion, and Damián Quintero, runner-up at the 2020 Olympics, both stepped on the podium at the World Karate Championship in Dubai.
They had both already picked up medals at the previous championship in 2018, but María picked up bronze in the team category, while Damián got silver as an individual. This time was different.
María hasn't just burst onto the scene- she was always there. However, her relatively short career has been a rollercoaster ride in terms of her performances at big events. Her biggest disappointment was when she narrowly- and controversially- missed out on her ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
That was when the 24-year-old, champion of Spain and ranked sixth in the world, decided to take a break and reset, focusing on the upcoming Dubai championship. She exceeded expectations, pleasantly surprising the Spanish delegation by qualifying for the final of kumite +68kg (sparring), something no Spaniard had done for 15 years.
On Saturday, María became the first Spanish woman to win gold in this kumite category. She did so by defeating Egyptian Okila Menna Shaaban in a frenetic duel which she won 5-4.
Meanwhile, Damián Quintero, in the twilight years of his career, continues to show why he's the most decorated Spanish karateca ever. He won his third consecutive individual silver medal after yet another kata (formalised sequence of movements that show offensive and defensive postures) duel against Ryo Kiyuna, a repeat of the face-offs seen at the last two World Championship and Olympic finals.