What a spectacular end of the second day of the European Championships. Host nation Bulgarian could dream about the gold, but now physically cherish and touch it as Ivaylo Ivanov was the winner of his category U81.
Ivanov gave hope for new successes for Bulgaria. The nation has a lot of history with world class performances of its legendary pioniers Zapryanov, Nedkov, Petrov, Bozhilova and Georgiev.
Kathrin Unterwurzacher regains her gold medal
In the category for women U63kg it was Kathrin Unterwurzacher who was the clear favourite for the final. She has a reputation in this championship with a gold medal in 2011 and silver last year in Prague. She felt today was her day for the gold again. In the final she met with Maelle Di Cintio of France who was expected to appear in the final phase.
After two minutes in the match it was the first real attack by Unterwurzacher that was immediately successful. Unterwurzacher regained the title, supported by her fanatic team mates on the tribune.
The Austrian won her four fights against Bulgarian hope Gencheva, Patockova (CZE) and Barkeling (SWE) in the semi final. Di Cintio defeated Murashko (UKR), Kerckhove (BEL) and Pari Surakatova (RUS) in the semis.
For bronze Surakatova was leading quickly by wazari against Emma Barkeling Pettersson (SWE) and kept her lead in her last match despite two penalties. However 10 seconds for the end it was Barkeling to strike back by waza-ari and then it was the Swedish who claimed the bronze. She is the first Swedish woman to take a European U23 medal. She defeated Valkova (RUS), Giorgis (ITA) but lost the semi against Unterwurzacher before she defeated Surakatova.
The bronze fight between Andreja Dakovic (CRO) and Valentina Giorgis (ITA) was a thriller. Dakovic was leading by yuko halfway the match but Giorgis kept the pressure up, but couldn’t prevent Croatian Dakovic to medal as first of her country.
Jonathan Allardon follows golden footsteps of Legrand and Etienne
French Jonathan Allardon won the European title U23. Allardon is the third French European U23 champion in the history. Johann Etienne (2006) and Ugo Legrand (2008) won the title previously. In the final he met with Italian Andrea Regis. Also the Italians have a reputation in this category where Giuseppe Maddaloni won the Olympic title in 2000. All three European U23 titles by the Italian men were collected in this category. Regis lost the final last year against Damian Szwarnowiecki and was the most experienced of the two in European finals. Both fighters are clearly good at senior level and both won European Cup and Open medals.
After almost two minutes it was the Frenchman to score first (waza-ari). Regis picked up two penalties. Last year he led the final, but got surprised, now it was the other way around. But with two minutes to go he came back in the match scoring waza-ari too and Allardon got penalised as well as Regis and that made the difference in the end. Regis couldn’t get close enough to Allardon who took the gold. It was his fourth victory after defeating Fedosejenkovs (LAT), Galuaev (RUS) and Parlati, Italy’s second ace.
In the match for bronze Italian Enrico Parlati battled with Sam van ‘t Westende of the Netherlands. Van ‘t Westende took the lead halfway the match by wazari but got strangled on the ground by the Italian who successfully won the bronze. It was his first European medal in this age category, previous Parlati won four European medals at European Cadet and Junior Championships.
Russian Felix Galuaev was the first to score in the bronze final against Axel Clerget of France. However a yuko distance the Frenchman kept dangerous and Galuaev kept his own game and scored a wazari tp make things clear. He never gave away that lead and took the fifth medal for Russia.
The Russian medalled three times this year in European Cups and was the highest seeded athlete. Via victories over Jecminek (CZE), Mirkovic (SRB), Kiss (HUN) and Clerget (FRA) he won Italy’s fourth medal.
Belgian Roxane Taeymans times career highlight well
The gold medal in the category U70kg was for Belgium. Belgian Roxane Taeymans and Russian Alena Prokopenko qualified. It was Belgium who claimed the gold. Roxane Taeymans needed five minutes and 34 seconds without scoring before she convinced the referee by ippon. In the golden score she almost scored but made the difference on the ground with an immediate follow up by ude-garami and Prokopenko tapped immediately.
Taeymans was successful in the preliminaries against Bakacak (TUR) and Artoshina (RUS) and won against Barbara Matic who tapped after an armlock again by Taeymans, resulting in an elbow injury in the semi final.
Prokopenko won her pool via victories over Andriyevska (UKR), Talach (POL) and last year’s European Champion Franciska Szabo. Prokopenko won a bronze European U23 medal U78 in 2011 but stepped back one category successfully this year. She won three European Cups in Orenburg, Tampere and Boras and was the highest seeded today but second on the stage. Also Taeymans started well this year with a European Cup victory in London and silver in Sarajevo but couldn’t medal anymore; she waited for the right moment, in Samokov.
Taeymans gave Belgium its second European U23 victory after Rosseneu won the title in 2010 U48kg. After taking a seventh place at Junior level in 2010 and fifth place last year U23 in Prague, now it was the time for Taeymans to grab the gold. Let’s not mention successful middle class athletes as Werbrouck and Jacques, just whisper them.
What a surprising bronze medal win for Franciska Szabo, the reigning European Champion of last year. She surprised Lucie Perrot in 20 seconds in her last match and could show her smiles in the end. She won a strong pool with Anne Ritt (GER) who beat Bernadett Graf (AUT) but was defeated by Alena Prokopenko in the semi final. The quick victory was also a surprise for Szabo who didn’t have her best preparation given an injury, but was able to give Hungary the second medal this event.
Karolina Talach of Poland took the bronze. She didn’t have to fight World Junior Champion Barbara Matic who got injured on her elbow in the semi final against Taeymans. Talach is the successor of Beata Rainczuk in this category, she won gold in 2007 U70kg.
Ivaylo Ivanov sets cold Samokov on fire with gold U81kg
The most thrilling final went to host nation Bulgaria. Ivaylo Ivanov who was heavily supported in his final against Khasan Khalmurzaev. Although he kept calm in the heat of the game and despite his reputation, he couldn’t score against Ivanov who kept more grip on the Russian top talent.
In 2011 Bulgaria won a gold medal (Yanislav Gerchev) and the crowd was already celebrating the final place, but Khalmurzaev was the clear favourite in advance. Khasan Khalmurzaev is a natural talent and won the Russian title and European Cups of Orenburg and Podčetrtek before he won the Grand Prix of Almaty in September. The Khalmurzaev brothers are brought to the top and their performances are amazing. But Ivanov cherished his final place and wanted to finish the day with gold at home in Samokov. With his stable grip he kept the full attention of the crowd and after three and-a-half minute the impossible became possible. With a great sutemi, Ivanov threw Khalmurzaev for ippon and there was no referee who came in between that decision, giving the crowd the ultimate reward for their support. What a surprising victory for Bulgaria that won bronze at the first day by Ivelina Ilieva U57kg.
The last match of day two was the most exciting for the home crowd and it delivered the fireworks as announced in advance of the tournament. The supporters could cheer four time for Ivanov today for his victories against Grygorenko (UKR), Riou (FRA), Schol (NED) and Khalmurzaev (RUS).
Andranik Chaparyan of Armenia defeated Melvin Schol (NED) in the bronze medal match with an excellent ippon after 92 seconds. Chaparyan follows the tradition of Artyom Baghdasaryan who won silver and bronze in this category U81kg in 2011 and 2012, so this is the third consecutive medal for the small nation Armenia. The first European U23 Championships were held in Armenia with seven gold medals for the home nation. After a gap of 7 years the train rides again.
The second bronze was for Hanne Conrad. The German senior Champion led his last match by waza-ari against Daniel Gonzalez Cava and was never in danger against the Spaniard.
Conrad was surprised in his second match against Schol but defeated two Spaniards and French Riou to take the bronze to Germany. Last year Conrad was close to a medal finishing fifth in Prague, in Samokov he won his second European medal. In 2010 he won bronze in the junior category (U73kg).
Romania kept the lead in the medal table because of the victory of Ivaylo Ivanov and it resulted in eight different nations winning a gold medal, a unique distribution after two days of fighting. Russia is the most successful nation though in terms of medals, the Russian team won seven medals followed by a successful Italian team with four medals, although both Regis and Bruno were close to the gold.
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