The big moment. The final block of all final blocks. The Mixed Team Junior European Judo Championships.
Following an incredible hour-long bronze medal contest between Germany and Portugal, there was a 3-3 result, eventually won by the -73kg Otari KVANTIDZE (POR). They were followed by Azerbaijan and France, the latter had a 3-0 lead but Fidan ALIZADA (-57kg) and Vugar TALIBOV (-90kg) managed to add two wins for Azerbaijan. Unfortunately they couldn’t reach the draw with a fourth and final win from Morgane RUBIANO of France, but it was an incredible performance from all athletes.
Now for the main event. The Junior European Judo Championships in The Hague couldn’t be better represented in the final than by their own team of the Netherlands. It looked like the three gold medals won yesterday in the individual competition motivated the team and they came with their A game, defeating Türkiye, Azerbaijan and Germany on their road to the final to meet Georgia. For the Georgian team, this is their first time in the Junior Mixed Team final, and wanted that gold just as badly as their hosts.
Kicking things off were Shalva GURESHIDZE (GEO) and Silvan BULTHUIS (NED) in the +100kg category. The 2022 and 2023 Junior European Champion, Gureshidze, simply bided his time and waited for the magical moment he could execute his signature ura nage for ippon. 1:0 to Georgia.
Julie BEURSKENS (NED) didn’t perform to the best of her abilities in the -57kg individual competition but she made up for it today when she pushed her team through to the final with her low style kata gurumas. Her final challenger was Nino LOZADZE (GEO), and is used to this style, which made it a little more difficult for Beurskens, but she persisted and scored ippon with a drop seoi nage.
Arguably, Giorgi TERASHVILI (GEO) was the favourite in the -73kg contest as the current Junior European Champion and has continued his success today, however Quinten VAN DER VEEN (NED) has been on top for the Dutch side. Unfortunately for the hosts, the winning trend went in favour of Terashvili, who doubled up on his sode entry to score ippon and take an important win for the team. Regarding the team’s eventual glory he told us,
It is double happiness for me, the final was good, actually my whole day was good and now we have this historic gold, we have never taken a title in the Junior European Championships before, now we are the champions.
Eter ASKILASHVILI (GEO) gave a great performance in the senior world championships mixed team event, also fighting up a weight cateorgy in the -70kg division, taking her team to a bronze medal win. Contesting this talent is Nadia SWINKELS (NED), and quickly the Dutch athlete found herself a waza ari down, and within another thirty seconds was forced to accept another, both from o uchi gari. Askilashvili stood proud with her medal,
Now I am really happy, because this is our first gold medal in the mixed team event and we have all the support from Georgia, and this is my family.
Now all the Georgian team needed was one more win. It was a tall order as Tamaz KOBERIDZE (GEO) took on the current Junior European Champion of the -90kg category, Lars VAN OOSTRUM (NED). It was a contest of scores and withdraws, the movements greatly debated and demonstrating why the care system is so important. The final moment was worthy of a championship gold medal, the pair engaged in a strong clinch but it was Koberidze that sealed the deal with a ‘khabareli’ finish. An incredible conclusion, not only for Georgia but of course a lovely end for the Netherlands team.
Rushing to celebrate with his team was President of the Georgian Judo Federation, Giorgi ATABEGASHVILI,
This is an amazing result, they were strong and I am really proud of them. Five times we have tried to win this event and finally we have the gold medal.
Of course not all of the national team members get the chance to compete as there are only three categories for men and three for women, but the -66kg Junior European Champion, Tengo ZIRAKLISHVILI stated,
This is fantastic! I am so happy, the Junior European Judo Championships finished with the Georgian national anthem.
That’s a wrap here in the Royal City of The Hague on the beautiful coast of the Netherlands. Next year the Estonian Judo Association will host the event and we look forward to seeing who will defend their titles and who will be newly crowned.
Author: Thea Cowen