Concluding the final block one day one of the Gyor European Open 2024, five nations shared the seven gold medals. Though the hosts did quite hit the top spot, KELLER Rebeka put in a stunning performance in the -52kg category to go home with the silver medal, as well as 5th places for PONGRASZ Bence (-66kg), SZEGEDI Daniel (-73kg) and finally a 7th place for KOSZEGI Rebeka Rita (-48kg).
So topping the table were France with two gold, three silver and six bronze, followed by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea with two gold in the -60kg and -73kg categories, then Austria, Spain and Belgium took one top position.
Both CHAE Kwang Jin (-60kg) and KIM Chol Gwang (PRK) in -73kg looked for morote seoi nage for their gold medal wins. However Chae set up Bart WELING (NED) perfectly with an ashi guruma attempt before dropping under his opponent with the seoi nage, Kim on the other hand, attempted the standing version, and though his opponent Luca OTMANE (FRA) almost escaped, Kim hooked in to seal the deal with ko uchi gake.
In the -48kg category, Ellen SALENS (BEL) came in as the top seed and performed according to her ranking position, steadily making her way through the draw and reaching the final against Anais PERROT (FRA). The latter really gave a good fight but in the end, experience and som serious ne waza skills won out and a juji gatame from Salens brought her the gold medal.
Defeating Keller in the -52kg final was Lea METROT (FRA), and it was another fantastic ne waza scenario, only this time fighting relentlessly to secure the shime waza, working hard to not let her opponent escape the work on the ground.
A couple of weight changes made all the difference for Team Austria today, and the first to prove it was Marcus AUER, formerly of the -60kg category who has embarked on a new journey in -66kg. Auer, again, was a ne waza specialist today, and his weapon of choice against Thomas JAFFART (FRA) was the juji gatame which was greatly celebrated by both himself and a very supportive team.
Martha FAWAZ (FRA) came with Team Paris Saint Germain today and her high level showed. She had a wobbly start but once she was warmed up she showed the PSG spirit and managed her contests well. Before today, Fawaz had been searching for the European Open gold, taking a silver before, so this win was a big step forward and a very happy win against Laura KALLINGER (AUT). Though the Austrian went in for the ko soto attack, Fawaz anticipated it and countered for the winning score.
Today was a great day and I’m so happy with my medal, I hope it is the first gold of many! My preparation was good, I was in the Paris Training Camp after the Grand Slam, but my training was quite calm, I didn’t overdo it before coming here. I will also be competing in the Warsaw European Open and now I feel really good about it.
Finally, Ariela SANCHEZ BENITEZ, formerly of the Dominican Republic, fought her first contest under the Spanish flag, and just so happened to hear the national anthem. It has been a tough road of recovery for Sanchez, battling injuries and illness to get back to her former fighting self, but she was ever the champion on the tatami today, demonstrating her skillset. The first score against Natalia KROPSKA (POL) was a strong switch from uchi mata to o uchi gari, but she relaxed a little too much, meaning the at Kropska levelled the playing field. Once she had gathered herself, Kropska became very aggressive on the grips which Sanchez simply controlled and earned her win with koshi guruma.
Author: Thea Cowen