Steven Da Costa, a French world champion in karate, said no aspiring karateka should rest on their laurels. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Dubai: Reigning world karate champions Steven Da Costa and Stanislav Horuna had a simple message for aspiring karatekas to follow - there were no shortcuts to success.

“My secret of reaching the top position globally in my sport is that I did not stop at any achievement, but rather I always looked up and saw what sort of future I needed for myself to establish a strong legacy for the sport,” Da Costa said during the webinar entitled ‘Sharjah International Forum for Martial Sports’ late on Tuesday.

Joining Da Costa and Horuna were another three karatekas – two from Kuwait and the UAE’s Ahmad Salim Baslaib – as they countered questions and spoke on challenges ahead for themselves and for the sport.

“Honestly, I looked always for the best. That was the motivation that made me train constantly and with great determination towards the top spot. Of course, there were tough times along the way, especially when I lost my fights. But that only gave made added motivation,” the 23-year-old Frenchman said.

“I may have disappointed after a loss, but I didn’t sulk and stay with the result. I decided to focus even more, listen to the advice of my coaches and look confidently ahead towards the future,” he added.

Karate enjoys a great deal of popularity in the Gulf region, including the UAE. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Da Costa has been among the top performers on the global stage in the men’s kumite -67kg category in recent years. Till date, he has won more than 30 medals during the last three World Championships, while one of the highlights of his career so far has been France finishing second in the overall standings at the 2016 World Championships held in Linz, Austria.

Individually, Da Costa has won 16 medals in 22 international appearances, including a silver medal at the U-21 World Championships, a senior European title and a bronze medal at the 2018 World Karate Championships held in Madrid, Spain.

Already qualified to represent France at next year’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in the -67kg category, Da Costa asserted that he will not stop or relent with his preparations to include an Olympic medal. “That’s where the hard work and dedication will ultimately pay off,” Da Costa related.

“An Olympic medal is meant to be the pinnacle for any sportsperson, and at the moment everything that I am doing is to ensure I achieve that one goal,” he stressed.

Organised by the Sharjah Self-Defence (SSD) Sports Club under the auspices of Sharjah Sports Council (SSC), the webinar included the Kuwaiti pair of Salman Abdullah Al Musaiwi and Mohammad Abdullah Al Musaiwi and the UAE’s Al Baslaib. Ahmad Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Chairman of SSD also participated along board member and Karate supervisor Obaid Al Asim Al Suwaidi.

Horuna, a lawyer by profession and one of the most respected karatekas, told participants that one of the keys towards success is a “total respect towards opponents”.

“It is the duty of every player to respect his opponents first if he is to get the better of them on the ‘tatami’ [mat]. In addition, every karateka needs to keep up with the development of their sport so that they are not left behind,” Horuna remarked.

“Another good habit is to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of an opponent while bringing in a more scientific approach to the sport. And the most important aspect perhaps is to stay alert always. No victory is forever. There is always another challenge up ahead,” he added.

Born in the west Ukrainian city of Lviv, Horuna lies at No.6 in karate’s Olympic standings with a world ranking of No.4 on the World Karate Federation (WKF). The Ukrainian is the WKF’s nominee for the World Games Athlete of the Year 2019 based on his sweep of six major medals, including golds at the Karate 1 Premier League in Rabat [Morocco] and the Karate 1 Series A in Santiago [Chile].

Tuesday’s webinar was the first in a series of four that have been scheduled twice a week while covering the four martial arts of karate, judo, taekwondo and jiu-jitsu. The next webinar will be on Jiu-Jitsu with UAE national coach Ebrahim Al Hossani as the moderator late on Thursday (June 4).