Maya GOSHEN (ISR) didn’t realise her potential in the Junior Europeans when seeded #1, going out in the first contest. In a complete turn around, she found herself in the final of the -70kg category today against home favourite, Lara CVJETKO (CRO) who went from strength to strength in the first part of the day.
I had a great start, the second fight against the number one seed (Margit DE VOOGD of the Netherlands) was very difficult, and went in to golden score. I never imagined I’d be first place today even though I felt good.
Although I wish I’d won in front of a big home crowd, it was so good knowing my family and friends were all sitting at home watching me on Croatian TV. This really motivated me and gave me that extra fight in the final.
The final was fierce and the rallying of all the local volunteers, team and staff filled the hall, carrying her and giving her that boost to conquer the category.
Karla PRODAN gave Croatia another chance to take a gold medal in the -78kg category, fighting the Junior European bronze medallist, Inbar LANIR (ISR). Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go the way she had planned, thought it was a hard contest, each picking up a waza ari but it was LANIR that was still feeding off her winning energy from last week that gave her the edge in the final.
Number one seed, SZIGETVARI Mercedesz (HUN) was forced in to the bronze medal contest by the 2018 Junior European bronze medallist Laura FUSEAU (FRA) in the +78kg field. It was a close contest, with the Hungarian leading but the Frenchwoman was desperate for the win and took her place in the final against Kubranur ESIR (TUR).
Even though FUSEAU had lost to ESIR on three occasions prior to this, it was her day today. FUSEAU was the more active judoka, looking to score and trying hard in her bid to get the gold, an eventual uchi mata entry scoring the U23 title ippon!
Inbar LANIR (ISR) took the gold in the -78kg category.
Laura FUREAU (FRA) finally flipped the trend beating rival Kubranur ESIR (TUR).
In the 81kg category it was a straightforward competition for Tato GRIGALASHVILI (GEO), though the preliminaries were tough, he was the dominant opponent, his experience evident. It was almost an all-Georgian final but 2019 5th place, Lukas WITTWER (SUI) put in a terrific performance in his pool and endured a gruelling golden score semi final against Vladimir AKHALKATSI (GEO).
GOZ Roland (HUN) came in as the favourite of the -90kg category but he ceded his place in the final to Ekubzhon NAZIROV (RUS). It was a swift semi final and the Russian was fast, transitioning to the ground and finding shime waza to take his place in the final against -81kg Senior World and European bronze medallist, Luka MAISURADZE (GEO).
NAZIROV controlled the final but once again, the experience and natural feel of the Georgian athlete pulled through with only 16 seconds left on the clock, scoring waza ari. This evened the score. It was the push MAISURADZE needed and only 13 seconds later scored an unquestionable ippon with o soto gari. A huge celebration followed, the last-second win a relief for the Georgian and his team.
I didn’t give up and held out hope till the very end that I could win. I felt that everything had to be finished as I wanted it to be. I am happy to finish the Championship with a golden medal in a new weight. About the weight, I am not going to change it, I have plans and goals for the Senior European Championships in Prague which is just the start for me.
The team will now head home to collect the rest of the senior entry for Prague.
Luka MAISURADZE took the second gold for Georgia in the weight category above his regular -81kg.
With only three seconds left on the clock, MAISURADZE scored ippon.
It was tough coming back after being a waza ari down for most of the contest.
It was a complete turn around for VEG Zsombor (HUN) as he didn’t get the result he was looking for in the Junior European Championships last week but he came out today a different fighter. Meeting him in the final was the #1 seed, Mathias MADSEN (DEN). The Hungarian put the score on the board first but as in the -90kg category, MADSEN clawed back and threw with a harai goshi to secure the gold medal and title.
The assumption for the +100kg category was in favour of Gela ZAALISHVILI, yet another Georgian heavyweight talent on day two. There was a 3:0 history against his final opponent, SIPOCZ Richard (HUN), as recent as the Budapest Grand Slam in October, even looking in favour of ZAALISHVILI during the contest today. However SIPOCZ fought with an incredible determination to hold on to his U23 title. With 1:20 in to golden score, ZAALISHVILI was starting to tire and the Hungarian took advantage of a slightly weak attack, countering and taking the U23 gold for the second time.
Mathias MADSEN (DEN) showed us why he was the #1 seed in the -100kg category.
Hard work pays off!
After losing three times to the Georgian, SIPOCZ Richard (HUN) retained his U23 title in the +100kg final.
A great day for Hungary.
Ultimately the organisation has been exceptional and the athletes have remained safe at all times with both the cooperation of the Croatian Judo Federation, European Judo Union, Local Health Authorities and of course all of the delegations that have brought together hundreds of athletes to compete over the past week in the Junior and U23 European Championships.
We look forward to seeing some of these athletes in Prague next week for the Senior European Championships hosted by the Czech Republic Judo Federation.
-81 kg Medallists
🥇GRIGALASHVILI Tato 🇬🇪 🥈WITTWER Lukas 🇨🇭 🥉AKHALKATSI Vladimir 🇬🇪 🥉MANUKIAN Hievorh 🇺🇦
-70 kg Medallists
🥇 CVJETKO Lara 🇭🇷 🥈 GOSHEN Maya 🇮🇱 🥉 VOS Donja 🇳🇱 🥉 ERIKSSON Ida 🇸🇪
-90 kg Medallists
🥇MAISURADZE Luka 🇬🇪 🥈NAZIROV Ekubzhon 🇷🇺 🥉MATHIEU Alexis 🇫🇷 🥉GOZ Roland 🇭🇺
-78 kg Medallists
🥇LANIR Inbar 🇮🇱 🥈PRODAN Karla 🇭🇷 🥉VAN HARSELAAR Renee 🇳🇱 🥉LOBNIK Metka 🇸🇮
-100 kg Medallists
🥇MADSEN Mathias 🇩🇰 🥈VEG Zsombor 🇭🇺 🥉SANEBLIDZE Onise 🇬🇪 🥉SERBAN Eduard 🇷🇴
+78 kg Medallists
🥇FUSEAU Laura 🇫🇷 🥈ESIR Kubranur 🇹🇷 🥉PIROGOVA Sofiia 🇷🇺 🥉SZIGETVARI Mercedesz 🇭🇺
+100 kg Medallists
🥇SIPOCZ Richard 🇭🇺 🥈ZAALISHVILI Gela 🇬🇪 🥉FEYZIYEV Jamal 🇦🇿 🥉KAITOV Kemal 🇷🇺
Author: Thea Cowen