María Torres and Damián Quintero with their solo medals in Budapest. DAEDO / GOKHAN TANER
Success for Malaga karatekas at World Championships
Martial arts

Success for Malaga karatekas at World Championships

Local talents María Torres, Damián Quintero and Salva Balbuena will all return from the Budapest showpiece event with silverware

Marina Rivas


Monday, 30 October 2023, 05:19


The World Karate Championships, which took place in Budapest this week, yielded a series of very impressive results for Malaga karatekas.

City-born María Torres, 26, who entered the tournament in Hungary with the golden 'karategi' in recognition of her status as reigning world champion, competed in the kumite +68 kilos division. In the final, she came up against stiff competition from Japan's Ayaka Saito who raced to a 6-0 win - though the match was much closer than the score would suggest.

Despite the disappointment of only securing an individual silver, her strong showing at the championship, including a gold medal for Spain in the team kumite (a 2-1 win in the final over Japan), has elevated her ranking in the global karate community.

She now stands at sixth place and adds to her growing list of international accomplishments, which includes two silvers and four bronzes in the Premier League, along with a silver from the World Games in the United States last year.


An elusive gold

Following Torres' outstanding performance, the stage was set for the second Malaga finalist, Damián Quintero. At 39 years old, Quintero has had an illustrious career, winning numerous titles, but he still had one unfulfilled dream - to clinch a solo world championship title. Unfortunately, he was unable to achieve that dream this time.

Quintero and his Turkish opponent, Ali Sofuoglu, engaged in a thrilling battle for the katas gold medal. Both athletes delivered exceptional performances, with Quintero earning a score of 44.5 for his Ohan Dai kata, and Sofuoglu securing a 45.6 for his Gojushiho Sho kata, which gave him the championship title by a narrow margin.


Up-and-coming talent

Following the remarkable performances of Torres and Quintero on Saturday, another athlete from the province achieved a podium finish for the first time on Sunday.

Salva Balbuena, an 18-year-old from Malaga, representing the Goju Ryu gym in Torremolinos, claimed third place in the team kata event alongside teammates Sergio Galán, Raúl Martín and Óscar Garcia.

Balbuena's achievement was particularly special as he was making his debut at senior level during these championships. Having already established himself as a rising star in the provincial karate scene, with a notable list of accomplishments including a cadet European champion title, a title at the Mediterranean Games, and a junior world bronze in team kata, this latest bronze is the crowning jewel in his collection.

The Spanish team secured bronze with just a tenth of a point separating them from the Kuwaiti team, who scored 45.3 points.

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