The first category, the -81kg was a draw for the home crowd as they had the 2020 gold medallist and home favourite, Damian STEPIEN take on Victor STERPU (MDA) who is testing the waters of this heavier category. An initial score from the Polish had the crowd on their feet but Sterpu transitioned in to osae komi in the next exchange to secure the win. It was disappointment for Stepien but he remained the hero for the crowd here. For this wondering, Sterpu confirmed,
This a permanent move, up to -81kg, my weight is just above so it was too much to cut to stay in -73kg.
Again, the home crowd were looking for golden glory, only this time in the -70kg from Eliza WROBLEWSKA. She used her height advantage once again against her final opponent Gioia VETTERLI (SUI) but the Swiss put up quite the fight, taking her opponent in to ne waza where she looked strong. In the following exchange, Vetterli took Wroblewska to the ground again and managed to get the submission from an armlock.
The bronze medals were won by FENG Yingying (CHN) and Jorien VISSER (NED), her third medal in the Warsaw European Open.
Dorin GOTONOAGA was Moldova’s second chance for a gold medal in the -90kg category, unfortunately he has acquired two shidos before both himself and Max LABORDE (FRA) were issued one more for gripping in a ‘bear hug’ manner, this third meant that the gold medal went to Laborde.
The final of the -78kg category was an all-German affair between defending Warsaw gold medallist Anna Monta OLEK and Julie HOELTERHOFF. There is a vast difference in the rankings with Olek sitting high at 22 and the latter at 137 but Hoelterhoff has significantly more experience given that Olek was fresh off the junior circuit last year. Half way through the contest which was led by the younger of the two, a big hip entry from Olek saw her opponent thrown for ippon and the 2022 gold was defended.
The crowd were incredible for WU Hongdao (CHN), both her teammates and the visitors celebrated her bronze win and on the adjoining mat, Lieke DERKS took a strong win for the Netherlands, despite the pressure from her opponent.
For George UDSILAURI (GER) his day was finished after the preliminaries and he walked on to the final solo to take the gold medal. The silver went to Zlatko KUMRIC (CRO). Laurin BOEHLER (AUT) came back from semi final defeat to take the bronze in the -100kg alongside Michal JEDRZEJEWSKI (POL).
Europeans were unable to fight their way in to the final of the +78kg category, leaving the places to the number one and two seeds; Beatriz SOUZA (BRA) and ZU Shiyan (CHN). Separated by only five places in the world ranking list, both are in the top 10 (#5 and #10). It was an aggressive battle to say the least, especially with their kumi kata exchanges. In the end, a harai goshi from Souza gave her the gold.
Though there were two available bronze medals for France, only Stessie BASTAREAUD managed to claim one and the other went to SU Xin (CHN).
Concluding the tournament here in Warsaw was the +100kg category with Marius FIZEL (SVK) and Mircea CROITORU (ROU). It was a tense contest and quite even, until of course Croitoru threw his opponent with o soto gari for the win. The bronze medals went to Wesley GREENIDGE (GBR) and Mohammed LAHBOUB (MAR).
Finally, France finished top of the medal table followed by People’s Republic of China and Germany.
Author: Thea Cowen