Tehran, Iran, July 6, 2020: Iranian karateka Hamideh Abbasali is ready to embrace her longed-for opportunity at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with the 12 extra months giving her invaluable time to recover from serious injury.
All her sporting hopes and fears collided at the World Karate Federation Karate 1 Premier League event in Salzburg, Austria, at the end of February.
The 30-year-old 2014 Incheon Asian Games champion, who has dreamed about competing at the Olympics for as long as she can remember, won her second major title in five weeks to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
But, in the process of defeating Italy’s Clio Ferracuti 2-1 in the 68+kg final, she immediately put that dream debut in doubt by tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee en route to victory.
“The competition was really stressful and physical. I knew winning a gold medal would stabilise my place at Tokyo 2020,” said Abbasali, the world number one in her weight category.
“Injury in professional sport is inevitable, but when the injury is close to the most important sporting event it certainly puts a lot of pressure on an athlete psychologically - and I am no exception to this rule,” added Abbasali, who is second in the standings of the WKF Tokyo 2020 +61kg class – one of three Olympic weight categories in kumite for women.
Surgery in Germany followed swiftly and, although Abbasali now insists she “never despaired” that she could get herself fit in time for Tokyo 2020, the doubts must have been there. It is why amid the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a chink of sporting light for the athlete.
“It was really good news for me,” Abbasali admitted of the 12-month enforced postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games to July 2021.
The knee is already feeling good. “About three months have passed since my knee surgery and I started rehabilitation exercises. I am in good condition,” she confirmed.