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Nine different countries have gold at U23 Euros
3 Nov 2018 17:55
The last day of the U23 European Championships shall decide which country performed best as so far nine different countries have won a gold medal. In an age group in which Russia, Germany and Hungary have traditionally carried the strongest competitors, no country has emerged as the clear front runner.
The U63kg final saw Lubjana Piovesana of Great Britain take on Renate Zachova, the first Czech female in a final since 2006 when Alena Eiglova took silver. It was a last-minute mistake by Zachova that decided the match; Piovesana saw that she could switch direction, and benefitted from her decision with a wazari score, almost catching Zachova on the ground as well in the process. Piovesana won all of her previous matches with ne-waza, but the last-second score was enough to take the gold U63kg. It was the the fifth-ever European U23 title for Great Britain, and its third in four years.
The U73kg final was contested between Akil Gjakova of Kosovo and Rufat Mammadov; the winner of the Paris Grand Slam taking on the U23 Champion of Azerbaijan. Mammadov pressed with full effort to begin the match and almost was rewarded for his efforts with a wazari, giving Gjakova all he could handle with his dangerous belt grip. Gjakova maintained his composure, and even received two penalties during the match, but still only needed a backswitch with his hip to turn an attack into a barai and score an ippon, a great move. Kosovo celebrates another U23 champion, with DIstria Krasniqi winning the title in 2016 and 2017 and his sister Nora Gjakova having won gold, albeit under the IJF flag in 2014, and Kelmendi winning in the same manner in 2012.
The U70kg final was decided in two minutes when Michaela Polleres scored ippon against Spaniard Sara Rodriguez. Polleres was able to find her favorite grip on Rodriguez’s back and could go any way she pleased, deciding to attempt a kosoto gari in the edge of the tatami.
Vladimir Alkhalkatsi won an uncontested gold for U81kg men against his compatriot Tamazi Kirakozashvili, both from Georgia. Germany won both two bronze medals as Tio Cavelius and Tim Gramkow both claiming spots on the podium.
After two days in Györ, Russia still leads the medal table, followed now by Georgia, but nine countries have won a gold medal, a unique statistic the demonstrates that quality judo players can be found around the world.
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Cheyenne Mounier (FRA)
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