Sun, 23 Apr 2000

Indonesia's karatekas earn four golds at SKIF world c'ships

NUSA DUA, Bali (JP): Indonesia earned four gold medals at the seventh Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation (SKIF) World Championships on Saturday, moving into fourth place in the medal standings.

Indonesia's top kata karateka Aswan Ali won the gold in the men's individual kata and added one more gold in the kata team event, along with Elias Tande and Wahyu Widayat.

National women's karateka Meity Kaseger took gold in a bloody match in the over 60-kilogram kumite event, outclassing Australian Fiona Rynne in Saturday's final.

Rustam Ibrahim earned Indonesia's first gold by defeating D'Aloia Franco of Italy on Friday night in the men's veteran individual kumite for 55 to 59 year olds. Salvador Gracia of Mexico won the bronze.

Indonesian Christina Sihombing finished third in the women's over 60-kilogram individual kumite. Indonesian Caya Rahmawati earlier captured the gold in the kumite event for 12 to 13 year olds, and Maria Ulfah took another gold for Indonesia in the kumite event for 14 to 15 year olds.

Aswan overcame Japan's Shinji Tanaka, the silver medalist in the 1997 championships in Milan, Italy, in the individual kata event. The bronze went to Nobuaki Kanazawa of Japan, the son of SKIF president Hirokazu Kanazawa.

"I thank all the people in this country who have trusted me. This trust has encouraged me to win. I hope my teammates can also contribute gold for the country," Aswan said after the match.

Elias, who entered the top eight on Friday along with Aswan, finished fourth.

In the team kata event, Indonesia overpowered Japan, while Italy, the runner-up at the 1997 SKIF championship, took bronze.

Meity was declared the winner in the quarterfinals after Italian Tomi Barbera was injured. She then fought Patricia D. Harada of Australia, who was also battling injury. Harada finished fourth, losing to Elmira Alakbarova of Azerbaijan.

Alakbarova lost to Rynne in the semifinals.

Indonesia, however, was not very successful in the men's individual kumite event.

In the under 65-kilogram event, Gurban Taghiyev of Azerbaijan won the gold by defeating Miguel Yepez of Venezuela in the finals. Taghiyev's teammate Iossif Djafarov upset Takanori Honda of Japan to take third place.

As of Saturday night, Japan topped the medal standings with six golds, seven silvers and seven bronzes, followed by Venezuela with six golds, six silvers and two bronzes. Azerbaijan was third with four golds, four silvers and two bronzes.

Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri officially opened the tournament on Saturday.

"Don't think that Indonesia is not safe, because you have visited the country. I also hope that all karatekas maintain sportsmanship because it will boost the sport's positive image," she said during her address.

Megawati received an honorary dan seven during the ceremony. Hirokazu Kanazawa, who displayed his latest fighting style, was honored with the dan ten, the highest in the shotokan clan. (ivy)