DUBAI, 23 November 2021 – Flying high from being crowned kata world champion on 19 November at the 2021 World Karate Championships in Dubai, Spanish karateka Sandra Sánchez posed alongside fans with her gold medal as she toured the Expo 2020 site on Tuesday with her husband, renowned kata coach Jesus del Moral.
Sánchez – who won gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, is a six-time European champion and also previously claimed a world title in 2018 – extended her Dubai stay specifically to spend time at Expo 2020.
No stranger to the UAE, having previously taught karate for two-and-a-half years at the International Karate Centre, Al Nahda, Sharjah, Sánchez was delighted spend more time on Dubai soil.
Sandra Sánchez said: “Expo 2020 is amazing. Today is the first time I’ve visited and I’ll definitely be coming back. It’s incredible having all these countries in the same place – and now I am inspired to visit so many new places.”
When Sánchez started her career 35 years ago, at the age of five, she was one of only two girls in her dojo – and her favourite Expo 2020 pavilion so far is the Women’s Pavilion.
Sánchez said: “It opens your mind and takes you back into history, while showing us how far we have come – and all the incredible women who have helped us to get to where we are now. It is important to always fight for our values and to stick up for ourselves.”
She explained she has witnessed a huge shift in attitudes in the world of martial arts, with previously male-dominated sports now enjoying a “more or less 50/50 ratio between males and females”.
Sánchez said: “There’s a lot of support now for female fighters and I think this is largely thanks to the Olympic Games – it’s really shown the whole world that karate is just as much for females as it is males.”
When asked who is her Mr Miyagi, in terms of inspiration when she trains and competes, Sánchez laughed and said: “The real Mr Miyagi: martial-arts guru Fumio Demura, who the character of Mr Miyagi is based on. He trained Bruce Lee and helped Pat Morita prepare for his turn in The Karate Kid, and I practice the same style: Shitō-ryū karate.”
For girls who want to follow in Sánchez’s footsteps, she advised: “Fight for your dreams. Not just your dreams of being good at karate, but fight for everything in life. If you practice karate you grow up to be a strong, powerful, disciplined person and this crosses over into all aspects of your life.”