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Israeli special needs karate champion wins gold medal

CM 02/05/2021

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The 2021 worldwide inclusive karate championship invited disabled athletes to compete in an online forum for the first time on April 25. Altogether, the I-Karate Global Inclusive Karate Federation hosted 304 athletes from 24 countries, with the representative from Israel, Idan Levi, winning a gold medal. 

Competitors in the championship submitted a video performance of their Karate expertise, as well as an image of themselves, and a description of their disability, explained the head of the federation, Eric Bortels. They were then separated into 41 categories based on their capabilities, so all athletes could participate equally, regardless of their condition.
“All the disabled athletes can participate in this championship,” Bortels said in the opening ceremony. Despite the pandemic Bortels was determined to create a space for the athletes to continue their Karate practices. 
“I had an idea to do something for our disabled athletes because they couldn’t do any competitions anymore,” he added, so he decided to “do something online so more people could participate.”
The outcome was a championship where special needs individuals could compete without the challenges of wheel-chair transportation and other difficulties disabled participants may face in travel, opening the stage for many more countries and athletes to join. 
Among them, Idan Levi, from Ramat Gan, performed a kata, a karate form that resembles an elegant, yet powerful dance perfecting the martial arts movements. He presented the Heian Nidan Kata, a 26 movement piece, half of which is performed in a back-stance; the form includes a knife-hand block, as well as kicks in a precise and symmetric fashion. 

Levi received a total score of 24.6, winning him a first place gold medal in his category. The Israeli anthem, Hatikva, played in the background as Levi was announced the winner.  
The online championship was streamed on youtube and received over 1,000 views, according to the federation.
The I-Karate Global federation strives to include special needs individuals in every day life, through building their confidence and providing them with a sport that can help them grow.
“The ultimate goal of a ‘karateka’ is to become a better person, in the broader sense, regardless physical and/or mental disabilities,” Bortels said in the federation’s manifesto.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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