KIYUNA Ryo wins gold in men's kata

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Japan's KIYUNA Ryo has been crowned the first men's kata Olympic champion beating Spain's Damian Quintero for a historic gold at the Nippon Budokan.

Three-time world champion KIYUNA Ryo can now call himself an Olympic champion after beating Damian Quintero of Spain to become the first men's kata gold medallist at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

It was always going to be a tough kata gold medal bout with a re-match of the 2016 and 2018 World Championships - Kiyuna had bettered Quintero for gold on both occasions. And not just that but Kiyuna, world no.3 and Quintero, world no.1, are two legends of the sport.

The Japanese karateka gave a resounding and powerful kata performance scoring 28.72 to edge pass Quintero's 27.66.

"I appreciate standing on this stage at the Olympics," Kiyuna said. "There are so many people who have been working so hard with COVID-19 and I appreciate that I can stand here even in this situation."

After being declared the winner, Kiyuna bowed deeply at the Nippon Budokan, the spiritual home of martial arts in Japan.

Born in Okinawa, the birthplace of karate, it was a fitting moment for the 31-year-old to be the first, and possibly only Olympic gold medallist in men's kata - karate won't feature at Paris 2024.

“Olympics draws the most attention. I was able to tell Okinawa, Japan, and around the world that karate, which is Okinawa’s tradition, is loved by a lot of people,” said Kiyuna. “I am happy to leave my mark on Okinawa’s history.”

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Ariel Torres Gutierrez of the United States and Ali Sofuoglu of Turkey took the bronze medal.

Gutierrez took the first bronze in a close bout with the legendary Antonio Jose Diaz Fernandez of Venezuela while Sofuoglu technique was in dominant form against Republic of Korea's PARK Heejun beating him by more than a point.