Egyptian karateka Feryal Abdelaziz has claimed Egypt‘s first-ever gold medal by a woman. The athlete beat Azerbaijani Irina Zaretska 2-0 in the final for the Women’s Karate Kumite +61 kilogram competition at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan arena on Saturday afternoon. Abdelaziz fought confidently from the start, but in a cagey and strategic match, there was no score going into the last minute of the three-minute bout. The 22-year-old fighter finally took the lead with less than 30 seconds left and followed it up with another almost immediately. At the final buzzer, there were scenes of joy from Abdelaziz and her team, as Egypt confirmed a stunning win.
The gold medal comes a day after Egypt’s Giana Lotfy claimed an Olympic bronze medal in karate despite losing her Women’s Kumite -61 kilogram semifinal bout to China’s Yin Xiaoyan. The karate Kumite competition does not have a bronze medal match for those defeated in the semifinal, unlike some other Olympic disciplines, with both competitors sharing the honor of third place on the podium.
After only 20 seconds of the semifinal against Sofya Berultseva of Azerbaijan saw both athletes score a yuko, Abdelaziz followed shortly with another to lead 2-1 with two of the three minutes left. The Egyptian was full of confidence and she edged closer to the final by taking a 3-1 lead halfway through the bout. All Abdelaziz needed to do was maintain her focus and at least a karate silver medal was going to Egypt.
After Berultseva pulled the score back to 3-3, Abdelaziz resounded with quick yuko to lead again, and with 22 seconds left, she went 5-3 up. Another point for her opponent could not stop a brilliant win and her progression to the final, where she was set to meet Iryna Zaretska of Azerbaijan. In her first match of the day, Abdelaziz immediately showed her strength by beating Li Gong of China of 4-0, scoring an ippon, the highest score a fighter can achieve in a Japanese martial arts ippon-wazari contest, with just under a minute left in the bout, and followed that up with another point with 22 seconds left.