The first of the semi finals in the 3rd European Games was Team Georgia against the almighty team of Italy who defeated top seeds, France. Sophio SOMKHISHVILI (GEO) was the first win of the match, getting her team off to a good start in the +70kg category, and was followed by the teams hype man and captain in this event, Guram TUSHISHVILI in the +90kg weight who was taken in to golden score by the -100kg Tokyo Grand Slam winner, Gennaro PIRELLI (ITA). Unfortunately for Tushishvili he couldn’t keep up with the tactical aspects of the contest and picked up three shidos.
With a 1:1 score, the experience of Eteri LIPARTELIANI (GEO) faced up and coming Italian athlete, Thauany David CAPANNI DIAS. Liparteliani went in for a colossal attack, true to her style, but it was anticipated and countered, putting Italy 2:1. Edoardo MELLA (ITA) was responsible for the change in the tides against France, but in this semi final he had to find a way to deal with and Olympic, world and European champion, Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI. On a couple of occasions, Mella hauled his opponent in to the air but couldn’t quite get the finish for a score, but the hunger was evident from the young Italian. Experience won in this case, an osoto makikomi from Shavdatuashvili was the saving grace.
It was a quick period of even score as Irene PEDROTTI put Italy back in the lead with some controlled ne waza, and then it was up to the current Olympic champion, Lasha BEKAURI to keep his team in with a chance of reaching the final with a draw. In the first exchange he put a score on the board against Christian PARLATI with an o soto, and then again in less than a minute to take the win.
In an exciting finish, it was a roulette decider. +90kg. Tushishvili had a second chance. This was a different version of the Olympic silver medallist, with a flurry of attacks, too much for Pirelli to deal with. The Italian ducked the high grip of Tushishvili and a powerful foot sweep scored waza ari and a place in the final for Georgia, giving them an opportunity to take back their 2021 title.
Number two seeds, Netherlands were up next against Team Germany for the place in the final. Renee LUCHT established the lead for the German side, defeating Karen STEVENSON with osae komi and next up, Michael KORREL (NED) struggled to find his way in against Losseni KONE (GER). The pair picked up shidos and in the end, Korrel stepped up his contest management, forcing Kone to cede on shidos, levelling the field. Not for long however. Pauline STARKE (GER) continued on her winning streak today, scoring ippon against Pleuni CORNELISSE (NED), countering an ura nage with ko uchi.
Koen HEG managed to bring it back for the dutch team, another ippon but this time with a drop seoi nage. It seemed it wasn’t the round for the Dutch women however who have been dominating in the earlier rounds, Sanne VAN DIJKE couldn’t seem to get to grips in her contest again Miriam BUTKEREIT who eventually took the win with o soto.
Though history and level of the competitors would have given favour to the Netherlands, Team Germany pulled through for a 4-2 win, the final hit coming from Martin MATIJASS against Frank DE WIT. After a great head to head, and a smart ne waza performance, Matijass eventually got the submission from De Wit, entering his team in the final with Georgia.
Following their quarter final loss, France were not in the business of making any more mistakes and put in the big guns including Sarah Leonie CYSIQUE for a 4-0 win against Team Türkiye who will go up against the Netherlands for the first bronze.
Portugal may not have come in with a star-studded team but they have been successful nonetheless, and will face Italy for the second bronze.
Author: Thea Cowen