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Kosovarian women write history in Lisbon

10 Oct 2015 19:30

   Rui Telmo Romão /
20151010_EuroOpen_Lisbon_RuiTelmo_Majlinda Kelmendi_KOS

It has been a historical day for Kosovo at the European Open in Lisbon. The little Balkan country captured two gold medals for the first time in an Olympic Qualification match. The final U52kg was even an all Kosova occurrence won by double World Champion Majlinda Kelmendi. Kosova won the medal table, also never achieved.

The Netherlands, Germany, Kosova all took two gold medals in Lisbon, and Taciana Lima opened the gold serie for Guinee Bisssau. Lima who switched to Guinee Bissau was born in Brazil and her opponent in the final U48kg was the number five of the World Championships, from Brazil Nathalia Brigida. Another juicy occurrence, but it was Taciana Lima who wanted to prolong her title of the previous 2013 women’s  edition in the Portuguese capital. Brigida received a few penalties and couldn’t finish the final with a score. Lima was four matches, four minutes on the tatami but was still the winner for the second time in a row. In 2011 she already won bronze and is now the most successful athlete at the Lisbon European Open.

Majlinda Kelmendi was of course expected to reach the final, for her it was the best ‘climate’ to get back at her usual world level. She cancelled World Championships participation in the last moment due to her injury she suffered this year. In September she showed herself in Bratislava and won the European Cup, now she stepped up one level higher at the European Open, as successful test case. It was more stunning though that also 19-year old Distria Krasniqi reached the final, never Kosova had two finallists. Krasniqi gave good opposition to her compatriot, like a training where the youngster had some penalty damage and Kelmendi took the gold U52kg.

Nora Gjakova, the European U23 champion and European Games bronze medallist was also successful. Another Kosovarian who grabbed the gold medal in Lisbon, which made the party complete, with the victory in the medal table as historic bonus. Gjakova defeated Fabienne Kocher in the final. The Swiss was really in a good shape today with victories over Bekky Livesey, Valentina Giorgis and 2014 World medallist Sanne Verhagen who injured her hamstring in the match. In the semi final she defeated Anna Righetti in 29 seconds. Gjakova had to fight 4 matches, her first against former World Champion Sappho Coban wasn’t an easy one. She also defeated both bronze medallists Timna Nelson Levy (ISR) and French Lola Benarroche who won in Belgrade two weeks ago. It says enough about Gjakova who will jump into the top 30 of the world after this weekend.

Kosova had only once two gold medallists in one day, at the 2012 European Cup in Switzerland, however that wasn't a qualification event.

The Netherlands won two gold medals today in Lisbon. Jennifer Wichers proved another time that she is one of the best athletes at this level, one step higher at Grand Prix level is the next challenge after her win today. Wichers won four matches and she defeated Amy Livesey in the final. European Junior Champion Lucy Renshall took bronze with Russian Daria Davydova.

Another top five player in Lisbon was Laura Vargas Koch, who also met the expectations. Vargas-Koch continued a German tradition in Lisbon and was the fourth German winner in a row in this category U70kg. In 2009 Elisabeth Greve started the serie, followed by Barbara Bandel in 2011 and Heide Wollert in 2013. Vargas Koch defeated Giulia Cantoni, Sanne van Dijke and Timo Barbara in the semi final, not the worst judoka in the world. In the final Megan Fletcher was defeated by yuko.

Karen Stevenson booked the second Dutch victory. The blond Dutch woman won bronze in 2013 but today she made a good serie and defeated 36-year old birthday girl Yahima Ramirez of Portugal in the semi final. Ramirez gave herself and her country bronze, but Stevenson proceeded and overcame Alena Kacharovskaya (RUS) in the final. Another veteran, 33-year old Catherine Roberge of Canada took bronze as well. In the final Stevenson needed a minute to overcome Alena Kacharovskaya of Russia.

Carolin Weiss of Germany won gold +78kg in the final against British Sarah Adlington. Larisa Ceric (BIH) and Tessie Savelkouls (NED) took bronze in a field 13 players. The 140 participants may not impress at World level, but it was a record in participation, slightly more than the 137 in the last Olympic cycle in 2011.

Related judoka and events

Related Judo Photos

  • Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS) - European Open Lisbon (2015, POR) - © Rui Telmo Romão,
  • Yahima Ramirez (POR) - European Open Lisbon (2015, POR) - © Rui Telmo Romão,
  • European Open Lisbon (2015, POR) - © Rui Telmo Romão,

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