The team showed a performance and a winning attitude that is on the rise, even with some athletes with conditions in the preparation week, the team remained cohesive and each one assumed their individual role and pushed the rest to give their best.

The team demonstrated a better performance on the second day of competition, an aspect that has been happening in recent top-level tournaments. With 50% of the athletes classified in their respective categories based on a very relevant spirit of improvement, the technical-tactical improvement took a step forward in continuity with respect to the previous competition. The current world Karate 1 circuit requires a high component of the emotional aspect, a skill that must be developed at optimal levels.

Lejla Topalovic shone in the spring sun in Larnaca and celebrated her second -61 kg podium in the second highest category of the world karate tournament in Serie A, after third place in Vancouver, Canada, in April 2023. Andrej Tvrdon (-67 kg) took a well-deserved ninth place after winning in his debut with the Austrian national team.

“I’m very happy that everything is working again. Because the omens were not good. I was bad all week and I missed competition practice. The last fight was at the World Championships in October. But then I entered the tournament well,” said a relieved Topalovic after the small final. The 23-year-old initially won her group with wins over local hero Sotia Zeniou (5:0), María Espinosa (Spa/1:0), Melika Quirici (Sz/6:4) and Veronika Kostovska (MKD/4: 1). “It got harder with every lap, but I gritted my teeth. But in the semifinals I lacked energy.” Ukrainian Darya Yervácheva maneuvered Topalovic into the small final after a 1:2 deficit with a 4:2 victory.

In the fight for bronze, Lejla convinced again the next day, defeating Hellen Rodrigues, who normally fights in a higher category (-68 kg), by 3:2. “I was well prepared against the Brazilian. I started tactically with cunning, guided by his coach, Juan Luis Benítez Cárdenes, and I waited. Only in the last minute I went ahead 2-1, tied it at 2-2 and with 15 seconds left I made it 3-2.” The bronze medal was also important for the world ranking, Lejla is now top27 and thus has a fixed place in the upcoming events of the Cairo Premier League.

Andrej Tvrdon´s performance was also satisfactory. Andrej (-67 kg) took two wins, then defeated José Chacón (GUA) in a thriller 8:7 in the repechage round and finished a solid 9th. Marina Vukovic (-68 kg) was left without wins, but she still came 11th.

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