The colors of freedom united the eternal tatami rivals: even the Russians understand the situation

The colors of freedom attract sympathy

Maciejus Mazuras is the face of the planet championship that will be held in Kelci this weekend – perhaps the biggest hope of the hosts, singing his swan song in his hometown.

But for the fighter himself, there are more important topics than awards.

On the eve of the championships, the experienced Polish karate wolf revived the press conference, which was drowsy from official speeches, when he spoke about his neighbors from Ukraine.

“I can only admire that, despite all the difficulties, they continue to train and manage to come to a tournament of this level,” said M. Mazur.

In the hall, where there were a number of his colleagues from Poland and other national teams, applause and shouts of approval immediately erupted.

Delphi as recently as last February – in the first days of the Russian invasion – described how the Ukrainian Kyokushin Karate Federation and its affiliated clubs faced an existential threat: after the start of the war, fighters and trainers massively signed up for army volunteers, territorial defense units, and began to organize the self-defense of the population themselves.

Ukraine survived – although more than half a year has passed, the end of the war is still in sight, but there is a team of eight Ukrainian athletes in Keltsi, ready to return to a more normal fighting form.

The team, led by veteran Aliona Veresniak, is distinguished both by the sympathy it receives from its competitors and by its clothing, marked in English with the inscription “colors of freedom”.

At that time, the representatives of the aggressors remained outside the door – both Russia and Belarus, which supports it.

Unlike most sports, kyokushin karate was suspended not only by athletes from these countries, but also by national federations.

World Karate Organization (WKO) President Kenji Midori Delphi said that even the Russians themselves are not outraged by such sanctions.

“Very cruel things are happening, let’s hope it all ends soon. Sanctions announced by us are self-explanatory in such circumstances. Probably, neither Russian nor Belarusian karate will be in the competition next year either.

On the other hand, they themselves understand the situation and do not take offense. Of course, Russia is a strong national team, but it will not have a big impact on the level of the World Championship,” said the Japanese.

A principled position towards Qatar is missing

At that time, M. Mazur, speaking with Delphidid not hide his relief at the fact that he will not have to compete with Russian representatives at the World Championship.

When the war started, a number of representatives of the Lithuanian kyokushin karate community rushed to help the attacked Ukrainians by all available means – perhaps to an even greater extent, the Poles, who were connected by the 500 km long border with Ukraine, did the same.

“Many people collected and transported clothes, medicines, cars across the border, others accepted refugees. Especially in the first month of the war, a lot had to be done – I myself devoted all my free time to it.

A distribution point for refugees was established in our club: maybe five hundred beds were built in the gym. There, people waited to be directed to their temporary homes, we helped them get a job, organized trips for those who wanted to go further. We had to take care of them 24 hours a day, of course, many volunteers from the country helped us”, said M. Mazuras.

The 31-year-old heavyweight is happy with the way the karate world reacted to the disaster that befell the Ukrainians, on the other hand, he would like other sensitive geopolitical issues to be more principled in sports.

“I think that people in Ukraine are proud of their karate fighters, similar to boxer Alexander Usyk, who is an example for the whole country. As for Russia, at the moment I would not be happy to participate in the same tournament with its representatives. It is said that sports and politics are separate subjects, but this is not true. Of course, it is good that the Russians are excluded from the kyokushin karate competition.

On the other hand, it should be kept in mind that Ukraine is not the only country in the world where war is going on and where people are suffering. Let’s say the World Cup is about to start in Qatar. We all know that human rights are constantly violated there, people of different sexual orientation are oppressed. But it doesn’t seem to be a problem for anyone, everyone will travel to Qatar. That’s why it’s strange to me,” M. Mazuras thought.

The favorites are Japanese and Lithuanians

The multiple European champion reached the zenith of his career in 2019 in Tokyo, when he went all the way to the finals in the prestigious world championship without weight categories and only then lost to the Japanese star Yuji Shimamoto.

Then M. Mazuras was going to leave – although he continued to train, the Pole did not want to return to the competition.

However, the organizers of the planet championships in Kelce persuaded the fighter to change his mind.

Even though he himself moved away from around 200,000 as a child. population of the southern Polish city, the athlete’s grandparents still live here – so there will be a lot of emotions when stepping on the tatami mat on Saturday.

“There is a high probability that this will be my last tournament. But I don’t have any specific expectations, no “minimum” plan. This time I just want to enjoy the moment. I know I can fight everyone, but we’ll see, injuries also play a role.

As always, the most formidable opponents are the Japanese, although this time they sent a young team. Among the lightweights, the Caucasians stand out, and the Lithuanians are always dangerous in the heavier weight categories, I have no doubt that one of them will win a medal. And after all, there is Valery Dimitrov (the most titled Bulgarian karate veteran among Europeans – Delphi). As a Pole, I also believe in the possibilities of my compatriots. But I think that Lithuania and Japan will perform best in the team standings”, predicted M. Mazuras.

It is interesting that in the same region of Poland this year the second highest-ranking kyokushin karate competition is waiting – last April, in Tarnuv, which is only 100 km from Kelce, the medals of the European Championship were distributed.

True, M. Mazuras does not call the Kyokushin karate capital of the Kelcei country – handball reigns here.

The “Lomža” club from Kelt, coached by the Kyrgyz legend Talanta Dujshebayev, who has Spanish citizenship, was the strongest in Europe in 2016, and last season only lost to Barcelona (Spain) in the final of the Champions League.

Lithuanians should also be familiar with the name of the football club Kelce, which has returned to the Polish “Ekstraklasa” championship – due to the coincidence, it has become a swear word all over the world in recent years. Four Lithuanian footballers of different generations have played in the “Korona” team: Andrius SkerlaPaulius Paknys, Tadas Kijanskas and Vytautas Černiauskas.

Prize winners in the national team and entourage

The world championship, which brought together 180 participants from 29 countries, will be held in Keltis for two days: Saturday and Sunday. Both women and men wrestle in four weight categories.

The Lithuanian national team of 12 athletes will be the third largest. 44 fighters were sent by Japan, the pioneers of karate, 13 were lined up by host Poland.

True, the thirteenth representative of Lithuania, Valentyna Kurmin, also came to Kelcus, but the 21-year-old debutant will not be able to start due to a broken arm suffered during training.

The team includes both veterans who became bronze medalists at the last World Championship held in Astana (Kazakhstan) in 2017: Inga Mikštaitė and Lukas Kubilius. However, the latter will no longer try to climb the podium again and will limit himself to the functions of a coach.

The Lithuanian fighter who excelled the most in the planet’s championships accompanied the team to Kelcus – her career has already ended Margarita Čiuplytėwho became the champion in 2009 and 2013.

Apart from I. Mikštaitė, no other member of the current team has managed to win a medal at the World Championship. But this year alone, Lithuanians won 14 awards at the European Championships, and Brigita Svinkūnaitė became the champion in the kumitė (real fight) competition. Edgardas Sečinskis and Event Gužauskas.

At the last world championship, even seven gold medals out of eight were grabbed by the Japanese, among which only Azerbaijani Salahat Hasanov managed to intervene.

However, together with the latter, only Miki Shoguchi will defend the title in Kelce. The Japanese national team is going through a generational change, especially pronounced among women whose average age is less than 21 years old.

“Of course, we will try, but the world is moving forward quickly – it will be difficult to repeat such a great success as in the last championship,” said WKO president K. Midori cautiously about the possibilities of the favorites.

Sunday from 12:00 p.m. Delphi will broadcast the decisive battles live from Polandduring which the new champions and prize winners will be announced.

The composition of the Lithuanian Kyokushin Karate team at the World Championship

Women:

up to 50 kg Brigita Svinkūnaitė
50-55 kg Evelina Bijanova
55-60 kg Inga Mikštaitė, Rūta Brazdžionytė
over 60 kg Aneta Meškauskienė, Brigita Gustaitytė

Men:

75-85 kg Juras Sokolov, Justinas Kvietka
over 85 kg Eventas Gužauskas, Edgardas Sečinskis, Paulius ŽimantasOrestes Abazorius

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