A host of defending champions will aim to retain their respective titles at the Karate World Championships here this week as all but one of the athletes who claimed gold in 2016 are set to be in action.
Emilie Thouy of France is the only absentee from the class of 2016 at this year's event, which begins at the WiZink Centre tomorrow.
The formidable Japanese duo of Kiyou Shimizu and Ryo Kiyuna are targeting their third straight World Championships gold medals in the women's and men's kata events respectively, while Rafael Aghayev of Azerbaijan goes in search of a record sixth kumite crown.
The women's under-61 kilograms kumite competition is the only category to feature two world champions, with Giana Lotfy of Egypt and Austria's Alisa Buchinger both on the entrants list.
Lofty won the division in 2016, while Buchinger has stepped down from the under-68kg category which she took gold in two years ago.
Alexandra Recchia of France will be out to defend her women's under-50kg kumite crown and could come up against Karate-1 Premier League grand winner Serap Ozcelik of Turkey.
Japanese hopes will also rest on the shoulders of Ayumi Uekusa and Ryutaro Araga, defending champions in the women's over-68kg and men's under-84kg categories, while England’s Jordan Thomas will attempt to shrug off concerns over his form and injury in the men's under-67kg tournament.
Sajad Ganjzadeh in the men's over-84kg division and Amir Mehdizadeh in the men's under-60kg event are expected to spearhead the Iranian charge for glory in the Spanish capital.
Action begins with four days of preliminaries from tomorrow until Friday (November 9), with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for the previous day.
All medal contests are scheduled to take place on Saturday (November 10) and Sunday (November 11).