22 August 2021

RECAP: CADET CHAMPIONSHIPS

RECAP: CADET CHAMPIONSHIPS

The city of Riga, Latvia was host recently to the Cadet European championships. One of the Baltic states, Latvia has for many years produced judoka who have done their nation proud on the world stage. This time it was the nation’s capital to take centre stage as it welcomed a total of 37 nations for one of the most prestigious events on the EJU calendar.

Medal Table © Sören Starke

The on-going restrictions caused by the covid-19 pandemic meant that that spectators were not allowed. There were times however when the atmosphere in the venue was sufficient to forget, even if briefly, that the cadets were competing in a bubble. There were plenty of stellar performances to ensure that Riga 2021 will long be remembered.

Azerbaijan continued their success in the lightweight boys when on the opening day they won gold medals in the -50kg and 55kg categories. However, it was the supremely confident Yehonatan VEKSLER (ISR) who brought the Azeri hopes of a triple gold for boys to an end when he took the gold medal in the -60kg category. Not to be outdone, Aydan VALIYEAVA (AZE) stepped up to save the day and take the gold medal in the -48kg to put Azerbaijan at the top of the medal table

Binta NDIYAE (SUI) © Kostadin Andonov

Day two saw Binta NDIYAE (SUI) become Switzerland’s first ever cadet European champion. Her gold medal win in the -52kg category came as the the number one seed lived up to her top billing to finish atop a podium that included the number 2, 3 and 4 seeds. Ndiaye had the perfect day in ending all her contests with ippon , not conceding a single score and not collecting a single shido.

Kerem PRIMO (ISR) at only 16-year old was a revelation in the -57kg category. The youngster, who bears a remarkable resemblance to her older sister Gefen, took less than two and a half minutes to collect five ippons from her five contests. Not one of her opponents succeeded in making it past the first minute as Primo smashed her way to the gold medal.

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But surely the prize (if there was one) for stylish execution should go to Yelyzaveta LYTVENYENKO (UKR) who throughout day three showed poise and elegance beyond her years. Lytvenyenko chose her gold medal contest to showcase her throwing skills when she threw Eva Ronje BUDDENKOTTE (GER) first with an uchi mata, ko uchi gari combintation. Then, with what was perhaps the throw of the tournament, a beautifully executed tani otoshi for ippon, all within 30 seconds.

Yelyzaveta LYTVENYENKO © Anna Zelonija

The gold medal winner in the +90kg category, Denis BATCHAEV (RUS), was notable in that he was the only boy seeded number one who managed to win his category. For the girls Pauline CUQ (FRA) in the -44kg category and Binta Ndiaye in the -52kg category came and left as number one respectively.

Sergey Soloveychik © Anna Zelonija

When asked for his thoughts on the tournament, European Judo Union President Mr. Sergey Soloveychik said,

“I am particularly happy that the Cadet European Championships finally took place. I congratulate all the medallists and their national federations. The European Judo Union is very proud of and thankful to the Latvian Judo Federation and the team of organising committee – they managed to organise such an event for the first time and they did it at a high level, securing the safety and warm atmosphere, we are very happy to witness their progress and great effort. We hope to come back to Riga on future occasions.”

Author: Sheldon Franco Rooks