25 February 2023


Warsaw European Open 2023


In the first final block of the weekend in the Arena Ursynow in Warsaw, the People’s Republic of China immediately took the lead in the medal standings by securing a gold medal in the -48kg category. A hard ko soto against France’s Laura ESPADINHA gave her the waza ari score in the final seconds of the contest, though she did attempt to move in to osaekomi, the hold lasted only a few seconds but it was already too late for the Frenchwoman. Bronze medals went to Amy PLATTEN (GBR) and Tereza BODNAROVA (CZE). 

Laura ESPADINHA (FRA) © Carlos Ferreira

The final of the -60kg category was a French treat, a match up between Romain VALADIER PICARD and Enzo JEAN. Unfortunately, as it was a national head to head, it was almost a stalemate with the pair picking up two shidos each and a third being issued to Jean to give the gold medal to Valadier Picard, this isn’t too unusual of course and given the performance of both today, somewhat expected. Sherzod DAVLATOV (KAZ) and Hakberdi JUMAYEV (TKM) took the bronze medals. 

Romain VALADIER PICARD and Enzo JEAN (FRA) © Carlos Ferreira

Once again Europe were challenged by the People’s Republic of China in the -52kg final, this time LIU Yingwei. Though GYERTYAS Roza (HUN) had already defeated one member of their team in the semi final, she was in for another tough bout. Initially it looked like a score for Liu, but Gyertyas followed immediately in to ne waza and secured osaekomi for 15 seconds to put a waza ari on the board. Liu had worked tirelessly and with only 40 seconds left on the clock, evened the score, and then took the gold medal win 20 seconds later with drop seio nage. It mightn’t have been the medal Gyetyas was looking for but the experience she is gaining is taking her closer to the top of the podium at senior level.  

GYERTYAS Roza (HUN) © Carlos Ferreira

The bronze medals in this weight category went to LIU Ben (CHN) and ZHU Yeqing (CHN) making it a total haul of three medals in the -52kg category.

Driss MASSON JBILOU (FRA) had given explosive performances throughout the day in the -66kg category so we expected nothing less in the final against PONGRACZ Bence (HUN). A tai otoshi attempt from the Frenchman acquired him a waza ari score and he was relentless with his attacks, leaving no room for Pongracz to advance. It was enough to take the gold, taking France to the top of the table and giving Hungary their second silver. The finalists were joined on the podium by Samuel HALL (GBR) and Danylo KHLOPETSKYI (UKR). 

The final of the -57kg category was a tight match between current junior European champion, Julie BEURSKENS (NED) and Tihea TOPOLOVEC (CRO). The latter was cleaning up on the European tour last year, claiming two silver and two bronze in European Open tournaments, it was a bronze in Warsaw so already a place in the final this year was an improvement for her. Beurskens on the hand, was debuting her talent on the senior circuit today, and did a great job. In the end, it wasn’t a battle of talent as Topolovec was eliminated for head diving. Yet another medal went to People’s Republic of China as CAI Qi picked up the first bronze and Seija BALLHAUS (GER) slogged it out, five minutes in to golden score for a well deserved bronze.  

Julie BEURSKENS (NED) and Tihea TOPOLOVEC (CRO) © Carlos Ferreira

Hassan DOUKKALI (MAR) came in as the number one seed of the -73kg category and he took his seeding all the way to the final against Adil OSMANOV (MDA). It was an exciting finale for this category, both talented athletes with plenty to offer, an initial waza ari score was given to Doukkali and then taken away, Osmanov given a second chance. However it simply wasn’t meant to be and Doukkali took off again to throw his opponent for a celebrated gold medal. Bronze medals in the -73kg category went to Lucy MEYER (GER) and Turpal DJOUKAEV (FIN). 

Adil OSMANOV (MDA) © Carlos Ferreira

Concluding the first day of competition was the -63kg category. Incredibly, the top four seeds were eliminated in the preliminary rounds, leaving it wide open. Yuliia HREBENOZHKO became the star of the show for the Ukrainian team, her semi final and final totalling one minute against her French opponents. Her conviction today and sheer determination drew attention and many were excited for the ultimate final. An o goshi in less than 20 seconds gave her the initial waza ari against Rania DRID (FRA) which she transitioned in to osaekomi for the continental open gold, her first on the tour. 

Yuliia HREBENOZHKO (UKR) © Carlos Ferreira

It wasn’t a total loss for the French women as Gaetane DEBERDT secured a bronze, and the other went to Vivian HERRMANN (GER). 

Tomorrow we will see the remaining weight categories, the event starting at 09:00 local time, catch the action at live.ijf.org


Author: Thea Cowen