Israeli special-needs karate champion wins gold

Idan Levi from Ramat Gan performed a kata, a karate form that resembles an elegant, yet powerful dance routine perfecting the movements of the martial art.

Idan Levi won a gold medal in the 2021 online inclusive karate world championship. (photo credit: screenshot)
Idan Levi won a gold medal in the 2021 online inclusive karate world championship.
(photo credit: screenshot)
Israel's Idan Levi won a gold medal at the 2021 worldwide inclusive karate championship for disabled athletes that was held online on April 25 when the I-Karate Global Inclusive Karate Federation hosted 304 athletes from 24 countries.
Competitors submitted a video clip documenting their Karate expertise and their abilities alongside an image of themselves and a description of their disability, federation head Eric Bortels explained. The competitors were separated into 41 categories based on their abilities.
Despite the pandemic Bortels was determined to create a space for the athletes to continue their Karate practices. "All the disabled athletes can participate in this championship," Bortels said in the opening ceremony.
"I had an idea to do something for our disabled athletes because they couldn't do any competitions anymore," he added.
The outcome was a championship where special needs individuals could compete free of the challenges of special transportation and other difficulties disabled participants may face and this allowed athletes from many more countries than usual to participate.
Among them was Levi, from Ramat Gan, who performed a kata, a karate form that resembles an elegant, yet powerful dance perfecting the movement of the martial art. He presented the Heian Nidan Kata, a 26-movement display, half of which is performed in a back-stance. The form includes a knife-hand block and kicks in a precise and symmetric fashion. 
Levi was awarded a total score of 24.6 to gain the gold medal in his category. Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem was played in the background when 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 through building their confidence and offering them a competitive sport.
"The ultimate goal of a ‘karateka’ is to become a better person, in the broader sense, regardless physical and/or mental disabilities," Bortels wrote in the federation's manifesto.