Concluding the opening event on the European Judo Tour, the Gyor European Open 2024, we saw the remaining weight categories compete for gold. The crowd were anticipating the -90kg, but first up were the -81kg men.
Adrian SULCA (ROU) has achieved great success in the -73kg category early in his career, but his transition to the IJF World Tour had been anything but smooth, not that joining one of the toughest and populated categories would have been. So today he took on the -81kg and seemed right at home, but standing in his way was Bernd FASCHING (AUT). An initial kata guruma from Sulca put a score on the board in the first minute, then he found his way in to ne waza, first an attempt at the shime waza before he found the juji gatame opportunity, taking the gold medal.
New weight category, but the gold medal! I feel good, I can show more just and can still throw and it s a bonus that I can eat what I want!
The crowd were prepared for a difficult head to head between team mates Sanne VERMEER and Margit DE VOOGD in the -70kg category. Both have had time away from the tatami in recovery and rehabilitation, however this is a new weight for Vermeer. Regardless, the team were happy with a guaranteed gold. It was looking to be a tough contest, and in the end was decided with osae komi, Vermeer taking the gold. There were certainly no hard feeling following the contest, the pair laughing and De Voogd stating,
I just really wanted to beat her! She lives across the hall from me now,
To which Vermeer interjected,
Yes and I’ll hang this medal above the door!
Of course without the numerous strong women in this group, the Netherlands wouldn’t be so notorious for the relentless winning, spurring each other on to great success.
I think it will take time to be fully good in the -70kg, but I am more confident, I can eat normally and really enjoy that! First last year I did an Open, and then went to Abu Dhabi but lost the first contest so I thought I still need to grow a little, and in Portugal, I felt like it went quite well. The difference between -63kg and -70kg doesn’t feel as big as I thought it would and in the Netherlands we have a lot of -70kg players so its good. So now I’m stepping in at a lower level but I feel good and I’m glad to have this opportunity to grow in to the -70kg category.
NERPEL Gergely (HUN) brought the stands to life as he stepped on to the tatami for the -90kg final against Yaroslav DAVYDCHUK (UKR). The motivation for this win was great, both on a personal level and to take the win at home, but it was a bitter sweet feeling in the end, as Davydchuk continued to defeat his opponents with his devastating ne waza skills, seeking out the juji gatame for the third time in this event.
Honestly I didn’t have expectations for anything today, I just trusted in God, but I must thank my coaches and everyone around me who trust in me. I actually came to judo from samba and ne waza is normal but I owe to my coach for teaching me.
U23 Vice Champion, Rafaella IGL(GER) had her work cut out for her in the -78kg final against Yael VAN HEEMST (NED) who looks to be back and fighting fit after a spell out of competition. Though many anticipated a long contest between the pair, Igl wasted little time and defeated Van Heemst with ashi guruma.
I’ve already fought her so many times so was quite nervous before the fight, it’s sometimes her, sometimes me so I really didn’t know how it would go. It’s the final, the best people of the day are there, but I actually tried the same thing as last time and it worked so I was really happy, I thought it would be a really long one. Next up is the Grand Prix in Linz so I hope there’s another medal to win!
The level was high in the -100kg category and resulted in a head to head between Austria’s Laurin BOEHLER and Simeon CATHARINA (NED). Boehler threw with uchi mata, scoring waza ari, but still had to manage half a contest. Catharina tried to apply some pressure but was remaining defensive and ended up picking up a shido for passivity. In the end, the score from Boehler brought him the gold medal.
I lost to him before in the Baku Grand Slam, first round, but I always fight better in the final block so this time was a bit easier for me. Obviously the whole Austrian team did well in this competition, on the day before, Marcus Auer won gold in the -66kg category, so I didn’t want to come second!
Paulien SWEERS (NED) debuted in her first European Open and it seemed first-timer luck followed her to a certain extent, but the confident current Junior European Champion wasn’t anticipating the final. Seeing out the top seed, Helena VUKOVIC (CRO) with an uchi mata, transitioning directly in to osae komi to take another gold medal for the Netherlands.
This is my first Open so I didn’t expect it at first, but I just went match by match, but I really didn’t expect it at all when I came here. I actually changed my club in the Netherlands too so I think that’s been a part of my journey and helped me today.
There were many a tale of injuries and big returns from some of our best athletes, not only Adrian SULCA, but Johannes FREY as well. It seemed like he hadn’t been away given his performance in the +100kg category. Then in the final against Movli BORCHASHVILI (AUT), he scored ippon with tsuri goshi and claimed the top spot on the podium, and sent his team to the top of the medal table.
I’m happy I was on form today and be able to take the gold medal, next week I fight in Baku and I hope to take the medal again!
Author: Thea Cowen