Warsaw’s Torwar Hala Sprtowo-Widowiskowa played host to the Warsaw European Open 2015 and, on the opening day, the Torwar succeeded in keeping an appreciative audience entertained. The Torwar is no stranger to the staging of high-level judo competitions having played host to the Warsaw European Open on two previous occasions as well as the Junior European Championships. This year’s Open is for men (the women are taking part in Prague) and day one saw 125 athletes, all hungry for Olympic qualification points, take to the tatami. With only a little over a year left until the close of qualification there was a sharp and nervous edge to the contests. European athletes faced strong opposition from visiting teams that included Brazil, Kazakhstan, Korea and Uzbekistan. This was reflected in the results where the only European to succeed in making it to the podium was Hungary’s Ori Felician in the -66kg category. Alongside him in the second bronze medal spot was double world champion and double Olympic medallist RIshod Sobirov UZB; silver went to Yeldos Zhumakanov KAZ with top spot going to An Baul KOR, (who defeated Ori in the semi-final).
Winning his first European Open medal the 21 year old Hungarian said “I was not sure what would happen today. I was not even convinced that I should be here! But heh, I told myself this morning that if I could win two matches I would be happy. But as soon as I’d won the two [matches] I then thought I’d like to win a medal today. The most pleasing win for me was against Aleksander Beta POL to whom I had lost previously. I had a knee injury at that time and was not able to give my best in that fight. Today I was in good condition and I was motivated because he was fighting at home with the crowd behind him.” When asked about his feelings leading up to the competition Ori said “I don’t usually look at the draw the night before. But last night I had a look and now, perhaps, after today’s success, I will from now on.”