Greece’s karate champion Dionysis Xenos won gold at the European Championships that took place in Croatia on Saturday.
In the 67 kg category Xenos faced Russian champion Eugene Plakutin who is a world champion and holds three medals at the European Championships.
Unfaced by his opponent, Xenos put up a brilliant fight and won 1-0.
“Every day all these years I have been practicing 4 to 6 hours a day to live this moment,” Greece’s champion said after receiving his gold medal.
“I cannot describe the feeling when I received the gold medal and seen the Greek flag at the highest mast. My next goal is to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games, Xenos said.
A few minutes ago I wore the gold medal around my neck and the Greek flag went up to the highest mast. What I tell you I say from my heart. No “filters”. The next goal is to qualify for the Olympic Games.”
Five medals won by Greece
This was the fifth medal won by Greece’s karate team at the games. Apart from Dionysis Xenos, medals were won by his brother Stefanos Xenos (bronze in 60 kg), Vicky Panetsidou (silver in 68 kg), Elena Hatziliadou (bronze in 68 kg) and George Tzanos (bronze at 84 kg).
Panetsidou produced a hard-fought performance to reach the final. She achieved an overwhelming victory 9-1 over Lisa Rasmusson of Sweden and then edged Ivona Cavar of Bosnia Herzegovina 1-0 and Hungary’s Evelin Hollo 1-1 to top the pool.
In the semi-finals, the Greek athlete claimed a tight victory by “Senshuu” or first unopposed point over Turkey’s Eda Eltemur (2-2).
“I feel incredible. I feel like a small child in a candy shop. I reached my goal, and the only thing I could think of was ‘gold, gold, gold’,” said the Greek karateka.
She was defeated in the final by Azerbaijani karate fighter Irina Zaretska.
A member of the WKF Athletes’ Commission and a favorite among fans, Panetsidou became European Champion in May 2011, when she took the title at home, in the event that took place in Greece. After that, she has been a constant fixture in karate’s elite.