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Zarko Culum steals the show at European Cup Belgrade

10 Jun 2018 16:55 / judo news, results and photos

The last match of the European Cup in Belgrade was the icing on the cake for Serbia. Zarko Culum captured the gold medal in the European Cup for the first time. His opponent was Romania’s big man Daniel Natea (26). But it was Culum who gave everything.

Serbia’s tall heavyweight took the gold in the final against Daniel Natea of Romania who was the winner of the European Open in Madrid last week. Culum has international potential and showed that with the support of the crowd he could stunt against Natea who was considered to be the favourite. Culum said: “I look up to Natea because he won Masters when I was a junior, but still I wanted to throw someone of his stature and today I gave it all and I tried new techniques and was in a good shape. So I am very satisfied.”

The successful Natea hadn’t lost a final since 2015 but lost the final in Belgrade four times, but won in 2015. It says enough about his experience, but the greedy Culum was maybe just more convincing today. Balkan champion Culum booked his first victory in Belgrade. Bronze was for Vladan Gajic in this weight class. It brought the total medal catch at 14 medals, four gold, two silver and eight bronze, the best ever result in 11 editions of the tournament.

The first gold for Serbia was for Bosko Borenovic. He won the European Cup in Dubrovnik in April and again qualified for the final U90kg. His Czech opponent Jiri Petr was in trouble halfway the match when Borenovic threw him for wazari. The home crowd smelled a third gold medal this weekend but Petr didn’t give up and made the equalizer. One minute for the end it was Borenovic who exploded with an straight ippon and gave Serbia the first male gold medal of the day.

Nemanja Majdov was supporting at the bronze medal content of Stefan Majdov. He just arrived back from Japan and drove to from Sarajevo East to Belgrade to witness his brother Stefan on the mat who became fifth. The final U81kg was won by Dorin Gotonoaga of Moldova who bested Botyr Nuraliev of Russia with an armlock after two minutes in the match. Nuraliev started strong but stepped into the trap of Gotonoaga.

Ivana Jandric took the first bronze of the day for the host nation Serbia U70kg. The gold was for Canadian Alix Renaud-Roy who defeated Andela Violic (CRO) also by an armlock. The Canadian was happy to be back on a podium. She won bronze in Belgrade two years ago but was now crowned with gold. “It’s been a while since I entered the podium and it’s just nice after a few injuries, so now we got to gear up at the ranking tournaments because there is serious competition in each category in our country. Kelita Zupancic is obviously number one but there are also a few young girls coming up strong like Emily Burt and she will be back soon. So looking forward to the future after this gold medal.”

Croatian Petrunjela Pavic won the gold U78kg. In the final she defeated Sabina Haracic of Bosnia Herzegovina by ippon. Haricic knows what it is to lose this final like in 2013 but was clearly caught after two minutes in the contest. It was the best result ever for the 17-year talent from Croatia.

Anna Zaleczna of Poland captured the gold medal for women +78kg. In the fiinal against Katarina Vukovic of Croatia she had more power and rolled Vukovic into ippon. Aleksandra Dubroja won bronze for Serbia.

Comeback Krisztian Toth 

The winner was U100kg became Krisztian Toth of Hungary. Not just that he won in Belgrade, but also one category higher and more important a nice preparation to move on in the international circuit. He will fight in Budapest and Zagreb, and have at least one or two good events in advance of the World Championships in Baku in September. Toth was relaxed took the time to watch his opponents, had time for fans but still it was a pleasant preparation being abroad. In the final he met with the tall Danylo Hutsol. In the beginning it was tough for Toth to adjust the power and did everything to get Hutsol out of his concentration. He scored a wazari after two minutes with ippon seoi nage, and had Hutsol in oseikomi a half a minute later, but the real ippon came 15 seconds for regular time. Toth who became father this year was happy with his performance. “Now with my kid I am leading the real life. But of course I will have to get back with good results and this was a good but tough preparation.”

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