Italy celebrated two gold medals at the first day of the European Open in Zagreb. The two titles together though didn’t generate the support of the last gold medal of the day for Iva Oberan. Her victory over Dutch talent Joanne van Lieshout was the talk of the town, well… talk of the Zagreb Judo bubble.
The category U63kg was challenging, a new generation is already stamping the way to Paris in 2024 and Iva Oberan (21) is definitely a frontrunner for Croatia in this division. The final though against Van Lieshout (18) was tough. It was the Dutch talent who took the lead after a strong takeover of Oberan’s attack. It looked the contest was going to finish in silver for the home team, but Oberan came back an scored the equalizer. Not much later followed by the final trigger for Van Lieshout who defeated Oberan in the cadets age category in 2017. They knew each other and both have a stunning development. Where the Dutch have Juul Franssen, Sanne Vermeer and Geke van den Berg, the youngster and European U23 Champion Van Lieshout is eyeing for Paris as well. Oberan, is just like Van Lieshout coming a judo family and delivers in Croatia over and over again. This international result was just what she needed to get to the next level. Her father Ivan who coached her will probably know the recipy. The gold went to Croatia and the bubbles in the nearby hotel could be opened.
Back to Italy that took gold U48kg by teenager Assunta Scutto, another great talent fighting in Zagreb who became the youngest winner this weekend. She was European cadet champion and world bronze medallist in that age but certainly delivers at senior level with bronze in Bratislava last year and in Zagreb in the final against Lois Petit. The Belgians came with three strong lightweights and took silver and bronze for Ellen Salens. Israel’s Sindi Vainshtain took bronze and Israel impressed today anyway with eight medals.
The second gold for Italy was for Matteo Piras U66kg, another medal at this level, this time he won the final and his opponent was Israelian Eylon Barsheshet.
His country man Roie Rosen took gold U60kg in his final against Antonin Dvoracek (CZE). Adrian Sulca of Romania claimed the gold medal U73kg against gold old Augusto Meloni.
Spain took the victory U52kg, a strong weight division but this time it was Izaskun Ballesteros Gonzalez to win the gold medal, a good experience and confidence boost for Spain’s number three. She defeated Joana Diogo of Portugal in the final. Yarden Raab (ISR) and Sofia Asvesta took brone. Svesta for Cyprus, the first World Cup medal since 2005 and first medal ever for a Cypriotic woman.
The title U57kg went to Poland. It was the first victory of Arleta Podolak since three years (Prague 2018). The former Military World Champion and Junior World Champion seems to be back with this motivating gold in Zagreb. We know she belongs to a higher level, at least Grand Prix level and who knows she will get that chance soon. Podolak didn’t get much opposition given the fact she is able to move to a higher level. Maya Leopold of Israel took the second silver for Israel and contributed to the great performance of Israel’s second team.
Croatia realised that it was the first big victory in Zagreb for a homeplayer since Barbara Matic’ win in the 2016 Grand Prix edition. That level is the next challenge for Oberan.