If there is a clear medal option for the Spanish delegation in the Tokyo Olympics, that resides in Sandra Sánchez. Since the inclusion of karate for the first time in the Olympic program became official in August 2016, the Talaverana has between next eyebrow and eyebrow next summer's appointment in the Japanese capital, a unique opportunity to round up a record of legend, every time that his sport will not repeat in the Paris Games of 2024 after the organizing committee decided to leave it out in favor of surfing, climbing, skateboarding or breakdance.
Sandra Sánchez's history says it all: world champion in 2018, five consecutive times European champion, from 2015 to the present, gold at the European Baku Games in 2015 and Minsk in 2019 and the undisputed leader of the world ranking of the World Karate Federation (WKF) in recent years. Such a payroll of triumphs officially makes it the best karate in history in the kata modality, which consists in the practice of a series of movements, steps and turns together with arm or leg techniques, individually or in teams, without fights against an adversary, and therefore, in number one candidate for the precious Olympic gold.
As is often the case with every great athlete, the link between Sandra Sánchez and the discipline that has raised her, karate, began many years before the brilliance of success illuminated a brilliant professional career. Restless and smiling, her parents decided to point to the four-year-old girl who was in the mid-eighties to dance classes, but other plans passed through her head. Her brother Paco had started practicing karate and she was determined to follow in his footsteps since he fell in love with this martial art of Japanese origin On a visit to the gym. Since then, the discipline and inner peace of his sport have been forging a character full of channeled energy on the tatami.
Passionate about Japanese culture, Sandra always carries dragon balls, iconic of the famous manga 'Dragon Ball', a reference of her childhood as an amulet. Once he finished his career in Sports Science (INEF), he decided to take a trip around the world that took her to Australia, where she lived and taught karate, but it was not until appearance of Jesus of the Moral, his coach and partner, when he focused fully on the competition through a specific preparation that has been key in his performance in recent years. His case is atypical, because it was not until well into his thirties, when many other athletes are already in the final stretch of his career, when he began to get on the podium in the big international events.
Kiyou Shimizu, the great rival
More than six hours a day of hard training center the day-to-day of a sportswoman aware that she is facing the greatest challenge of her career: to reach the Olympic glory and also do it in an emblematic place, the country that is the cradle of karate. The Japanese Kiyou Shimizu, number 2 in the WKF ranking and twice world champion, in 2014 and 2016, is emerging as the great rival for that dream, since both karatecas are several steps above the rest, without anything but some unforeseen may prevent them from fighting olympic gold, as they have been doing in recent years in World, European and Premier League events, the highest category of the world circuit. "That my medal is taken for granted in Tokyo, I take it as something positive, that means they trust me because they think I'm good," he summarizes, faithful to a way of being determined and charged with positivity. No balls out, Sandra Sánchez knows that she has in her hands the great opportunity of her career.
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