Spain won three gold medals on the opening day of the karate competition at the European Games here today, with both kata champions of Baku 2015 - Damián Quintero and Sandra Sánchez - retaining their titles, and Laura Palacio Gonzalez adding another title as she beat Meltem Hocaoglu of Turkey 4-1 to win the over-68 kilograms women’s kumite final.
"It's amazing for the whole team and I can't say how happy I am to have won the gold medal," said Gonzalez.
Croatia’s world karate champion Ivan Kvesić won the men’s kumite under-84kg title by the narrowest of margins after finishing at 0-0 with Turkey’s Uğur Aktaş, but what might have been a family double was frustrated as his brother Andjelo was beaten 1-0 in the men’s kumite over-84kg class by Azerbaijan’s Asiman Gurbanli.
Kvesić took the under-84kg gold by virtue of a single penalty conceded by his opponent.
Bronze medals were won by Italy’s Michele Martina and Valerii Chobotar of Ukraine.
Bronze medals in the over-84kg went to Germany's world champion Jonathan Horne and Gogita Arkania of Georgia.
Italy’s Silvia Semeraro upset Azerabaijan’s world champion Irina Zaretska to claim gold in the women’s kumite under-68kg final.
Semeraro, who took European Championships bronze last year while Zaretska claimed silver, claimed a 5-1 victory.
"I'm very happy,” Semeraro said.
“I'm only 23 years old and it's the first European Games for me.
"It was very emotional.
“I did the kick and the punch and managed to win.
“Zaretska is really strong.
“She won the gold medal at the first European Games in Baku in 2015, so it was really important match.
“And I managed to beat her."
Bronze medals went to Halyna Melnyk of Ukraine and Elena Quirici of Italy.
Bronze medals in the women’s over-68kg class went to Finland’s Titta Keinanen and Eleni Chatziliadou of Greece.
Earlier, Quintero and Sánchez had earned second European Games gold medals in kata.
Sánchez, 37, scored 27.32 points to defeat second seed Viviana Bottaro of Italy, who scored 26.14.
"This was a very long year,” said Sánchez.
“Sometimes I was afraid that this is the last tournament during the year.
“Maybe I would be tired.
“But after I stepped on tatami, I forgot everything. I felt only my power.
“So my kata was marvellous.
"This medal is very important for me, because it's only one year left before the Olympic Games, so the result carries a good meaning."
Bottaro commented: “It was difficult for me to win, because my opponent is actually the first in the world, but there is nothing impossible in sport.
“I will work harder for the next time."
In the bronze medal matches, Portugal’s Patricia Esparteiro scored 24.68 to defeat Mayia Fursova of Belarus, who totalled 23.68, and a score of 25.46 earned Turkey’s Dilara Eltemur victory over France’s Alexandra Feracci, who scored 24.94.
Quintero, world silver medallist and five times European champion, followed with victory in the men’s kata competition as he scored 26.88 points to earn gold ahead of Turkey’s Ali Sofuoglu, who totalled 25.60.
In the bronze medal matches, Azerbaijan’s Roman Heydarov scored 25.46 to beat Ilja Smorguner of Germany, who scored 24.54, and Mattia Busato of Italy earned victory over France’s Enzo Monarello by 25.60 to 24.04.
Quintero and Sánchez had earned their places in the gold medal matches by finishing top of their ranking groups earlier in the day.
Quintero had scored 27.22 points to top pool A, while Sofuoglu finished head of pool B with a score of 27.12.