19 November 2023


European Judo Championships U23 Potsdam 2023


His name: Kevin ABELTSHAUSER (GER/73). His role: substitute, nominated for the German mixed team for the Under-23 European Championships in Potsdam at the last moment due to injury of a team member. In the end, he was one of the hosts’ European Championship heroes. A six-second performance was enough. With his victory in the semifinal decider Abeltshauser kept the Germans in the game. Two hours later they won European Championship gold and the MSB Arena was over the moon. “That was the best moment of my career, simply awesome,” beamed the substitute.

It wasn’t his year, to put it mildly. Kevin Abeltshauser, from TSV Abensberg. In eight starts, he had achieved just one top-7-result: 5th place at the European Cup in Dubrovnik (CRO). Not enough to make the squad for the under-23 European Championships at home. Definitely not enough. If it hadn’t been for a few more cancellations in the German team. So the 21-year-old slipped into the German mixed team at literally the last moment – as an emergency nail in the coffin. It was uncertain whether he would play. But of course Kevin was delighted with this unexpected opportunity.

His first semi-final appearance, against Nariman Mirzayev, was sobering – to say the least. The European Championship bronze medallist was better in all respects and won early after two Waza-ari scores. The Azeris reacted correspondingly positively when the 73 kg category was drawn for the deciding bout (with the score tied 3-3 after six fights). The opponents were confident of victory. Mirzayev would win once again – the final seemed within reach.

“I heard the Azeris laughing and cheering. I knew they thought it was all over. But I just concentrated and was grateful for this second chance. I wanted to do better this time.”

And how he did it better. Kevin Abeltshauser stepped onto the mat, took a deep breath and bowed. Two steps, O-soto-gari approach, throw,, victory . The second fight lasted exactly six seconds, as it was directly into Golden Score (first score wins). Nariman Mirzayev laid on the floor, Kevin couldn’t believe his luck. And the spectators were screaming their heads off. “I’ve never experienced a moment like that before. Everyone was freaking out, screaming. What a relief. I kept our chance of gold alive.”

The substitute was not used in the final against the Netherlands (4:2). Nevertheless, he was the celebrated hero at the award ceremony and afterwards. Even Abensberg club-mate, Olympic champion Ole Bischof, congratulated him and asked Kevin for an exclusive selfie.

“I’m with the police as a candidate, DJB national coach Sebastian Seidl is my counsellor there. I don’t want this to be my last important Judo title. I want more,” says Kevin and clenches his fists. Follow-up: “I think we’ll celebrate this properly today! And next year I’d like to finally compete in the single competition of the European Championships Under-23.” The Bavarian Police Corps would be delighted.

Author: EJU Media