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Last weekend was the final tournament opportunity for karatekas to qualify for the upcoming 2020 Olympics. Approximately 500 athletes from 98 countries made their way to Paris, France in the hope of winning one of the 24 tickets to Tokyo. Team Canada was comprised of 8 athletes in each of the Olympic divisions, as well as Coaches Pam Ross (Kata), Nassim Varasteh (Kumite) and High Performance Director / Coach Kraig Devlin.

Rita Ha Thi Ngo was the first Canadian to hit the mats on Friday morning in Female Kata. She confidently moved to the second round with a score of 23.68 for her first kata, which placed her second in her pool. She then scored 24.42 in the second round, which put her in third place and therefore meant she was moving on to the next round. Ngo’s journey alas stopped in the third round, shy less than a point to make the semi-finals. She placed 7th overall. In Male Kata, Toshi Uchiage placed third in his first round with a score of 22.08, but was stopped in the second round.

In women’s Kumite, Kathryn Campbell, -55kg, was unfortunately defeated 2-4 in the first round by the American Trinity Allen. Haya Jumaa, competing in -61kg, won her first two matches without getting scored on (2-0 and 4-0). Jumaa then conceded to the European vice-champion Anita Serogina (UKR). Melissa Bratic, +61kg, finished at the top of her pool, winning her first 4 matches (2-0, 4-3, 3-0 and 3-0). She lost the pool winner match, but confidently won her repechage match 5-2 against Claudia Ionita (ROM) and thus secured her spot in the round robin finals. Unable to keep her winning streak going, however, Bratic unfortunately lost her 3 round robin matches, which meant she would not qualify for the Olympics, despite this remarkable overall performance.

On the men’s side, Ryan O’Neil, -67kg and Mohammadreza Nikbakhsh, -75kg both lost close matches in their first rounds, respectively 1-2 against Sultan Alzahrani (KSA) and 0-1 against Petar Zaborski (MKD). Canada’s last athlete to take to the mats was Daniel Gaysinsky, in +75kg, and his performance certainly took the whole country through a roller coaster of emotions. Gaysinsky lost a close first match (2-2) against Tareg Hamedi (KSA). Hamedi ended up making it to the finals, which sent Gaysinsky to repechage. The Canadian then started his incredible ascent back and fought 5 consecutive matches where he dominated his opposition with scores of 7-2, 5-0 (decision), 1-0, 7-0 and 3-0 to earn his spot in the round robin finals. Following a loss of 1-2 versus the Georgian Gogita Arkania, Gaysinsky unfortunately lost a very competitive second match by a score of 6-9 against Tareg Hamedi. He needed to win his last match against Tyron-Darnell Lardy (NED) in order to finish third and get his ticket for Tokyo. Gaysinsky scored the first point and received ‘senshu’ (advantage). Three seconds before the end, with a 3-3 tied score, Daniel was awarded a penalty which seemed to deprive him of senshu, the win and his Olympic dream. Following a successful protest from Team Canada, however, Gaysinsky regained the senshu and both competitors were brought back to the mats to complete the last 3 seconds of the match once again. The ending, this time, was in favour of Daniel Gaysinsky, and he has won his spot to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games! Of note, Mr. Gaysinsky is the only male athlete across all kumite divisions to qualify from the Pan American region, so far, and he holds one of only 5 spots in total for the Pan Am region across both disciplines and both genders (men and women’s kata and kumite, out of a worldwide total of 66 athletes qualified for the Games to date).

Karate Canada is very proud of all its athletes and coaches and commends their unwavering work ethic, dedication and passion through these unprecedented times. The future of Canadian Karate is bright, and we are thrilled to now have an (future) Olympian amongst us. Karate will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo and will be presented from August 5-7 at the Nippon Budokan.

Participation of our delegation in this event has, in large part, been made possible by the Government of Canada.

Relevant Links:

About Karate Canada:

Karate Canada is a not-for-profit corporation constituted under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act, with the objective of describing and incorporating all activities related to the promotion, organization, regulation and popularization of the sport of karate all over Canada, of protecting the physical and emotional health of athletes, and of promoting the interests of karate throughout Canada. Karate Canada and its 11 member Provincial and Territorial Associations normally assemble roughly 16,000 participants nationwide. Furthermore, Karate Canada is a proud member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, the World Karate Federation and the Pan American Karate Federation. See more at www.karatecanada.org

For more information:

Olivier Pineau
Executive Director
Karate Canada
olivier@karatecanada.org
(514) 252-3209