The preliminary rounds in the European Mixed Teams Championships were off to a ballistic start, in the opening contest, Oleksandr KOSHLIAK (UKR) scored ippon in only five seconds, setting the standard of competition for the day. In the end, Ukraine defeated their Polish opponents 4:1 to move in to the quarter final against the hosts, France.
One of the first round highlights was the head to head between the Netherlands and Georgia, the final from 2021. Unfortunately for these two strong teams, whoever suffered the loss today would meet an immediate exit from the tournament. Last year we saw the Georgian team victorious in Ufa, Russia but on this occasion, it was current European champion Jur SPIJKERS that sealed the win for the Dutch team. In fact, it was a double victory for Spijkers after losing out to Saba INANEISHVILI (GEO) not once, but twice in the final last year.
Now while the crowd were certainly alive and well and supporting all of the teams, the Alsace Regional Sports Center exploded when their team, lead by former world champion Marie Eve GAHIE stepped on to the tatami to face Ukraine. Gahie instigated a clean sweep, and France went on to face Türkiye in the semi final. Loris TASSIER (FRA) was first up on this occasion in the -90kg division but it was not the straightforward win like before for the team. Sebile AKBULUT (TUR) took Lea FONTAINE (FRA) in to golden score, battling the crowd as well as the pair tired but in the end Fontaine conquered. Recently in the U23 European championships, Munir ERTUG (TUR) was the final piece to the puzzle in the +90kg category, securing the mixed team title for Türkiye in Sarajevo and he was the one to turn it around in this semi final defeating Joseph TERHEC.
Unfortunately Hasret BOZKURT (TUR) couldn’t keep the momentum going against Faiza MOKDAR, leaving the score 3:1 in favour of France. Only one more win was required and the faith was put in the hands of Benjamin AXUS for the home team. He worked tirelessly in ne waza on numerous occasions until finally he was able to secure the win with a beautiful o uchi gari.
The next semi final was between Germany and the Netherlands, of course the latter were motivated, wanting to improve on their 2021 result of silver. Frank DE WIT, Karen STEVENSON and Jur SPIJKERS went on a rampage, defeating their German opponents and the pressure was on for Shannon VAN DE MEEBERG to secure the fourth and final win against the former U23 European champion, Seija BALLHAUS (GER). Ballhaus brought her team back in to the race and Alexander Bernd GABLER continued the success for team Germany but world bronze medallist Sanne VAN DIJKE earned the Dutch the necessary win to reach the final.
The final block will commence at 16:00 local time, follow all the action at live.ijf.org. While we anticipate a tremendous final between the Netherlands and hosts, France, we can also look forward to the bronze medal contests between Italy and Germany, followed by Türkiye and Hungary.
Author: Thea Cowen