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Slovenia cheers for one single European title for Klara Apotekar
16 Sep 2017 20:15
Four countries each captured three gold medals this weekend at the Junior European Championships in Maribor. Russia, however, was the best with nine medals in total. Azerbaijan, which won two titles on Friday and one on Saturday, ruled in the men’s division. The Netherlands was the best country among the junior women of Europe.
The first gold medal on Saturday was for Dutch Sanne Vermeer, who was the only athlete on Saturday who defended her title. On Friday Justine Deleuil (FRA) and Hidayet Heydarov (AZE) captured their second title in a row. Vermeer won the gold in a lively final against Gili Sharir of Israel. Vermeer was penalized twice due to sloppy seoi-nage techniques, which gave the impression of false attacks, but not much later she strangled Sharir on the ground after a quick transition. Vermeer also defeated Dena Pohl, who won bronze, and Lubjana Piovesana who lost her bronze bout against Finnish Emilia Kanerva.
Madina Taimazova won the first junior European gold medal for Russia ever U70kg. Strong women won the title before Taimazova: Joó, Polling, Graf, Mansour, Matic, Van Dijke, Gercsak and Gahie last year. All succeeded in the senior category and formed the new generation. The Russian winner defeated Michaela Polleres of Austria after a good combination with a tani–otoshi and finished the final by osaekomi. Austria was unlucky this weekend with two silver medals as Stephan Hegyi also lost the heavyweight final. In the strong category U70kg Alice Bellandi (ITA) and Aleksandra Samardzic (BIH) took bronze. Last year 18-year old Taimazova became Cadet European champion, so she stepped up the fast train.
Klara Apotekar gave the Slovenian homecrowd a giveback for their cheers this weekend. Apotekar captured the only medal for Slovenia, but at least it was gold. The unseeded player is experienced at senior level but is still a junior. Apotekar defeated Marina Bukreeva of Russia after a penalty in the golden score.
Last year’s Cadet European champion Romane Dicko this time claimed the gold for women +78kg. Dicko, who contributed to the senior World Championships team bronze for France, now bested Anna Gushchina of Russia in the final, her fourth victory of the day.
German athlete Tim Gramkow took the gold U81kg. In this strong category some of the favourites dropped out quickly, such as Turpal Tepkaev, Matthias Casse, and Sergii Krivchach; only Tim Gramkow succeeded in surviving his pool and qualified via the final. Against Luka Maisuradze of Georgia, Gramkow suddenly struck by ippon and won gold for the first time in this category since Sven Maresch won the title in 2006. On August 31st, Alexander Wieczerzak won the World title in this category where the competition is tough in Germany.
The U90kg category also had some huge surprises. Typical for the day was one of the first matches of round one between Eduard Trippel of Germany and Aurelien Diese of France. Trippel was certainly a favourite but the strong Frenchman won convincingly and won his pool. In the final he dominated Mykyta Matlashevskyi of the Ukraine after three penalties. After a long period of Russian and Georgian domination finally France regained the title U90kg after 11 years. It was Diesse’ career highlight to finally take gold at such a level where last year he won bronze in Malaga. Jamal Petgrave, who had lost to Diesse, won the bronze after an exhausting final against Jakub Ozimek. Grigor Sahakyan (ARM) also won bronze.
Zelym Kotsoiev was not a surprise on the highest step of the podium U100kg. As one of the seeded players he was among the favourites. Those favourites kept fighting for the medals. Kostoiev overcame Arman Adamian (RUS) in the final, whilst Daniel Zorn (GER) defeated Danish Mathias Madsen in the match for bronze. Belarussian Daniel Mukete continues his European campaign with bronze at individual level with one junior year to go. He captured the only Belarussian medal this weekend.
Russian Inal Tasoev won the European Junior title two years after his Cadet European title. Despite the heavy competition today, he won the gold in the final against Stephan Hegyi who recently stunned Olympic runner-up Harasawa, but that didn’t guarantee him gold in Maribor. Hegyi had to work hard and lost his last contest.
24 Countries won a medal in Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia, that was host of the Senior European Championships in 2002. At that time Slovenia wasn’t a great judo country yet, but nowadays it is one of the most important sports with two consecutive Olympic Championships. Urska Zolnir handed out some of the medals today.
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Enrico Atkinson (GBR)
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