9 June 2024


Madrid European Open 2024


Big names donned the Polideportivo Municipal Princes of Asturias on the final day of the Madrid European Open 2024. A golden back patch was carried in by Lasha BEKAURI (GEO), standing out among the sea of judoka was the double Olympic Champion, Teddy RINER (FRA) at 2.04m tall. Then in a heavier category, we had the likes of Axel CLERGET (FRA) showing the younger generation why he’s so famous for his ne waza skills. Among the celebrity judoka however, were rising stars and those breaking through with their first big wins.

First up to decide the medals were the -81kg men. Arnaud AREGBA (FRA) went toe to toe with Magamed BORCHASHVILI (AUT) for 1:24 of golden score before scoring a semi final with with ko uchi gari, but in the final he was meeting another big thrower fond of ashi waza, Vladimir AKHALKATSI (GEO). The Georgian held off an all-French final by defeating Tom LIBERT (FRA) seemingly looking to throw forward but switching with a foot hooked in to claim his final place.

Despite both working tirelessly for this place in the final, it lasted just over 30 seconds, Akhalkatsi looked strong with his ura nage, but Aregba managed to anticipate it in time to hook in for o uchi gari, scoring ippon.

Spain were guaranteed a finalist, in the -48kg as Eva PEREZ SOLER and Gemma Maria GOMEZ ANTONA battled it out in the semi final, but it was the latter who won out in the final seconds with a deep ko uchi, and then prepared for her final against Sarah ISCHT (GER).

Fortunately for Perez, she secured the bronze medal before her team mate stepped on the tatami. Gomez has been looking strong as of recent, placing fifth in the Kazakhstan Grand Slam, but she was taken by surprise by Ischt today, who quickly applied the shime waza. The German athlete had taken a gold medal most recently in the East Sarajevo Pale Senior European Cup, but this is a first continental open medal, and a gold at that!

One of the superstars of the day, Bekauri took his place in the final after defeating Alex BARTO (SVK) in the first of the -90kg semi finals. An o soto maki komi gave him the initial score, but he also gave the crowd, which was made up of many Georgian supporters today, quite the scare as Barto lifted him high and came close to catching his opponent. A third shido was eventually issued to Barto however.

Paul LIVOLSI (FRA) was Bekauri’s final opposition, it was the world ranked #1 against #79. It took only 42 seconds to bring the crowds to their feet cheering, a huge and devastating ura nage gave Bekauri the win.

Chiara SERRA (GER) came back in the final moments of her -52kg quarter final, which took her in to the semi final with Raquel BRITO (POR). Serra managed to launch her very tall opponent with tani otoshi to meet up with a home favourite, Marina CASTELLO DIEZ (ESP) who impressed the crowds with her sumi gaeshi.

With another opportunity for a gold medal, the Spanish home crowd came to live in support of their athlete, Castello clearly feeling the big push and took the gold medal in 46 seconds, executing kata guruma twice, and adding another gold to the medal table for Spain!

The French talent in the -100kg category was incredible today, many of their top athletes in contention for the gold medal, but a surprise came from Clerget, who saw out his team mate Francis DAMIER in the semi final. Though Damier took the early score, in true Clerget fashion, he piled on the pressure and evened the playing field with maki komi, but the contest finished with a third shido picked up by Damier.

Aurelien DIESSE (FRA) could have made it an all-French affair in the final, but stood against Iosif SIMIN (ISR). Waza ari scores were awarded to both in the first 30 seconds, giving the crowd a tremendously exciting performance, but Simin clinched the win with a second ura nage.

Simin also carried this in to his final with Clerget, scoring initially, it put Clerget under pressure and desperately attacking. A last ditch attempt with ashi guruma played in to Simin’s style, who yet again, won with a crowd-pleasing ura nage.

Austria had a successful first day in Madrid, earning a silver and bronze, clearly motivating their day two athletes, four of whom made it to the semi finals. Lisa GRABNER secured her place in the -57kg final, defeating Tihea TOPOLOVEC (CRO) with shime waza. There was potential for an all-Austrian final however Laura KALLINGER who had been hot on her ashi waza during the preliminaries was on the receiving end in her semi final against the PSG athlete, Martha FAWAZ (FRA).

Grabner was first on the board, scoring waza ari with sumi gaeshi, firing up Fawaz who went on to score with an uchi mata. The pair then went in to golden score, both aware of the dangers their opponents posed, but in the end, a second uchi mata from Fawaz brought her a second continental open gold medal this year.

The grand finale of course was Teddy RINER (FRA) who defeated Movli BORCHASHVILI (AUT) to take the place in the final of the +100kg category, looking for the second gold in as many weeks. Finally he faced Grzegorz TERESINSKI (POL) who secured the win against Jonas SCHREIBER (GER) to have his chance against the Frenchman.

Teresinski shocked the crowds, and Riner, scoring first with a driving drop seoi nage, flying through the legs of his particularly tall opponent. Riner was simply unable to prevent the score, however this was the wake up call he needed, and shortly after threw with a signature uchi mata, landing directly in the osae komi. Though another continental open was on the cards for Riner in Lima, he seems comfortable now to return to train for the final preparation before the Olympic Games.


Author: Thea Cowen