Ryo Kiyuna, 31, made Olympic history by becoming the first-ever gold medalist in the men’s kata event on July 30.
Winning gold: The three-time world karate champion took home the first gold during the debut of the sport at this year’s Olympics, reported CNN World
- Kiyuna beat Spain’s Damian Quintero in the finals and finished with a score of 28.72 points. He may be the only gold medalist in men’s kata since karate will not be an event at the 2024 Paris Games, according to the Olympics website.
- He told reporters that he appreciated “standing on this stage at the Olympics” and that he can “stand here even in this situation,” referring to the pandemic.
- Kiyuna bowed at the Nippon Budokan, Japan’s spiritual home of martial arts, after being named the winner.
- “Olympics draws the most attention. I was able to tell Okinawa, Japan, and around the world that karate, which is Okinawa’s tradition, is loved by a lot of people,” said Kiyuna. “I am happy to leave my mark on Okinawa’s history.”
Kiyuna the karateka: Kiyuna, who was born in Okinawan, started karate when he was five years old because he “wanted to become strong,” stated his athlete profile
- He was given an Excellence Award at the 2018 Japanese Olympic Committee Sports Awards and the 2016 Japan Sports Awards.
- “I don’t take a day off, 365 days a year. I do five to six hours each day, seven days a week, on technical practice, and then one to two hours, seven days a week of physical training.”
- He is the only karateka to have won a men’s kata medal in each of the past four world championships.