After a stellar performance from the team, the Azeri athletes claimed the lead in the medal standings here in Odivelas for the Cadet European Championships 2023, tallying four gold medals and one bronze.
Immediately, Odivelas played host to history in the making. The opening final welcomed Patricia TOMANKOVA (SVK) and Nina AUER (AUT), both medallists in the Cadet European Championships 2022, the latter had improved on her result regardless given that it was a bronze win last year. Tomankova certainly had the edge and scored early on before ending the contest with shime waza to finally earn her cadet title and become the first from her country to do so.
I’m really excited about this title, especially after last year taking second place so this final was very important for me.
The top two seeds of the -50kg category; Mahammad MAMISHOV (AZE) and GALO Bence (HUN) took the whole four minutes to decide who would take home the gold medal and cadet title, but in the end, it was an early score from Mamishov with a double sleeved sode tsurikomi goshi that brought Azerbaijan their first gold medal of the tournament, with three more chances today alone.
Marta BEORLEGUI OSES (ESP) came in as the number one seed today in the -44kg category and went from strength to strength towards the final against the number two seed Ronja KLEIN (GER). The pair were evenly matched in terms of strength and ability to throw, both competing positively, however Klein was lagging due to the tactical advance of of Beorlegui, and the German athlete picked up two shidos. Unfortunately, she was once again forced on the edge and after stepping out of the area, desperately tried a drop seoi nage but was penalised. This awarded Beorlegui the -44kg title.
Great surprise came for Serbia in the -55kg category as Marko JORGIC battled past the number #6 seed Jesse CHRANIUK (GBR) on his way to the final against the top entry, Mirkhalig ISKANDAROV (AZE). Despite a strong preliminary performance, Jorgic was no match for the Azeri athlete and was scored against in the first 15 seconds with ko soto gari, which was quickly followed by kata guruma to seal the deal for the second cadet title for Azerbaijan.
Once again, Azerbaijan were applauding and cheering an athlete on to the tatami, this time in to the young women’s final of -48kg. Vusala HAJIYEVA was also a top seed coming to Odivelas and proved exactly why in her final. She was definitely the more physical compared to Libi BECKER (ISR) who had a breakthrough day, coming in unseeded and battling her way in to the final, however she was thrown with a drop seoi nage and finally Hajiyeva secured the osaekomi.
The -60kg young men made sure they saved the best till last. An incredible contest ensued between KOLLAR Sebestyen (HUN) and Mahammad MUSAYEV (AZE), an intense contest with both athletes looking for a throw however the Hungarian quickly acquired two shidos. This forced Kollar to go forward and even scored waza ari, putting his opponent on the back foot with one minute to go. Eventually the pair were even on shidos but with five seconds left on the clock, pure determination and desperation rescued Musayev, a yoko sutemi waza brought about an ippon score and amazingly, Azerbaijan’s fourth gold medal. In a beautiful conclusion, the coaching staff, delegation and even athletes stood to sing the national anthem arm in arm.
Speaking with the Azerbaijan delegation; Cadet head coach Rustam ALIMLI, national team coach, Nijat SHIKHALIZADA and advisor of the president, Natik BAGIROV, they were extremely pleased with results from day one. Alimli has been in this position for one year now and is happy with the direction of the team.
If you had asked me this morning for my predictions, I would have said two gold medals would be a good result for us, and for tomorrow, I want to say another two at least so it isn’t over yet! Last year we were second in the medal table behind France but already we are more successful than in Poreč where we took three gold.
The development of the cadet team has been noted and now is becoming even more of a phenomenon as they take the lions share of the gold medals and could finish on top for the whole event if they can keep this momentum.
Author: Thea Cowen