Azerbaijan is leading the medal table after day one with two gold medal and two bronze medals, all for the strong lightweight men. Russia, Italy, Bulgaria and Greece won gold as well, France lost two finals.
Sixteen medal winning nations already after one day of fighting. An amazing start for Azerbaijan, but also for some other nations such as Moldova that claimed the first ever Junior medal in the women’s division.
Women U44kg: Damyanova takes the gold
The final was between the two strongest judoka, also on paper. The number one seed Serbian Julijana Savic fought against 2011 Cadet European Champion Borislava Damyanova from Bulgaria. Damyanova won the bronze last year in Porec and now she was again the strongest of the two.
Savic was already Junior European Champion in 2010 in Samokov and won two European Cups this year. Damyanova defeated Savic at the European Juniors in 2011. In this edition Damyanova scored a waza-ari half a minute before the end and won the gold.
Damyanova is the third European Junior Champion from Bulgaria, Atanas Valchev was the first in 1981, Tereza Dzhurova the previous champion in 2010.
Andrea Stefanescu of Romania won the bronze against Priscilla Morand (SUI).
Second bronze was for 15-year old youngster Marusa Stangar frop Slovenia who defeated Lebedeva Seven seconds before the end she confirmed her lead with a waza-ari and took the bronze.
Men U55kg: gold for Azerbaijan
The final U55kg was between Vincent Manquest of France and Davud Mammadov of Azerbaijan. Mammadov took the first gold medal for his country since four years. Traditionally Azerbaijan is strong in the lightweight categories, Mammadov proved another time.
Manquest had defeated Garik Harutyunyan in the quarter final and Mehman Sadigov in the semi. A strong line-up but he forgot the win his last contest against Mammudov who finished the matches with oseikomi. This year at the European Cup in Wroclaw Manquest also lost the final, there where Mammadov won bronze.
Highest seeded Mehman Sadigov won bronze for Azerbaijan in his last match against Matthieu Groell (SUI).
Akos Bartha surprised Garik Harutyunyan with ippon and was clearly disappointed. He was European Champion in 2011. Bartha was happy and showed again that he’s in shape this season.
Women U48kg: Phenomenon Irina Dolgova collects another gold medal
Irina Dolgova has successfully defended her European title of last year in Porec. The super talent from Russia claimed the gold in the women’s U48 division. She was still ranked first U44kg but strong enough to compete U48kg like she did the whole season and take the gold.
After one minute she defeated her compatriot Anna Dmitrieva with waza-ari followed by oseikomi for ippon. Dolgova is unbelievable and continues her hunger for gold. In 2010 and 2011 she was European Cadet Champion and won the World Cadet Champion as well. Last year in Porec she won the Junior title and she finished second U23 years in Europe, also U48kg.
The bronze was for Cristina Budescu of Moldova who is the first woman of her country to take a Junior medal. In 1994 Lyudmila Cristea won bronze at the World Junior Championships. In the match for bronze she floored Amandine Buchard by ippon. The French had some impressive pre-rounds but lost in the semi final against Dmitrieva and lost her second match against Budescu.
The second bronze medal was for Switzerland that now finally won a medal. Tamara Silva beat Alexandra Pop (ROU). In the quarter final she had lost against Amandine Buchard but came back strongly.
Men U60kg: Another gold for Azerbaijan by Rufullayev
The final for men U60kg was an exciting one between two strong fighters: Ahmet Sahin Kaba (TUR) and Rashad Rufullayev of Azerbaijan. Rufullayev was the strongest with a sudden ippon after two minutes. Kaba won bronze last year in Porec but couldn’t take the gold this time.
Rufullayev was an amazing fighter in the age category U17 years but also shows that with his 18 years he can stand his men in the junior category.
Fran Garrigos celebrated a success for Spain when he won the bronze against Fabio Basile of Italy. Garrigos won due to the two penalties for Basile but also seemed to be the strongest of the two in this bronze contest. The Spanish Champion won the European Cup in Malaga but his medal was still surprising and a welcome medal for the male Spaniards who didn’t win any junior European medal over the last 11 years.
Oruj Valizada of Azerbaijan won another bronze medal, just like last year in Porec and maintained strong. Last year he won U55kg, this time U60kg. Valizada also defeated number one seed Sakhavat Gadzhiev (RUS) in his first match.
It was the fourth medal for Azerbaijan and second gold on the first day, a well picked choise by the headcoach of Azerbaijan.
Women U52kg: Italian Giuffrida finally takes Junior gold
The final for women U52kg was won by the strong Odette Giuffrida of Italy. Giuffrida is cimply much further than the rest and was already ranked fifth at the Senior European Championships this year. She collected three European title (including EYOF) as a cadet and two European U23 title but in the juniors she hadn’t won any major medal yet until today.
In the final she was stronger than French Julia Rosso who’s career is comparable, however she was more successful in the juniors but gets less chances in her country at senior level to become tougher in her age category matches. Against Giuffrida though she gave a good match but could not get back from an early backdraft (yuko) in the beginning of the match. Edwige Gwend was the last women to take gold for Italy, four years ago.
Distria Krasniqi won the bronze on behalf of the IJF. Her coach Driton Kuka seems to be a real success coach. Krasniqi got the support of World Champion Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS) who witnessed the event from the tribune.
Alexandra Florian of Romania won the bronze, an improvement of her fifth place last year, but perhaps the minimum she expected. Florian is in the transition from Cadet to Junior where she dominated the field, but as Junior she has to adjust at the major championships. At European Cup level she defeated everybody already. This year she won the big tournament in Berlin. On Friday she defeated Daniela Raia of Italy for the bronze.
Men U66kg: Greek Georgios Azoidis wins the triple
In the men’s U66kg the gold was again for Georgios Azoidis. But what a strong final between those two men, Azoidis and Anthony Zingg, the winner of Berlin and Wroclaw. Azoidis is ofcourse a phenomenon as he won his third European title since 2010, only in 2011 he was defeated.
Azoidis scored an immediate waza-ari in the opening of the match but ZIngg got more grip on the match but couldn’t express his grip in a score until the last minute (yuko). Azoidis could stay on the ground when needed with his comfortable lead and never gave it away.
The bronze was an interesting fight between Junior Degen (NED) and Ilja Ciganovic (SER). Both have trained together in Serbia as preparation for this championships and know eachother well. Ciganovic finished seventh last year in Porec where Degen won bronze. But Ciganovic took over the offensive enthusiasm of Degen and scored yuko in the last minute, enough for the bronze. An important medal for his country, the second in history for Serbia. Aleksandar Kukolj was the last in 2010 and obviously in the women Julijana Savic today and in 2010, what a start for Serbia.
The second bronze medal was for Martin Vegvari who’s in a good shape. He also won bronze in Berlin and now defeated Davit Ghazaryan (ARM) in an equal fight. Both were penalized twice but in the golden score Vegvari floored Ghazaryan after 13 seconds to take bronze and his usual celebration yell could be heard by those above him.
Azoidis in special elite list
Georgios Azoidis now enters a special list of athletes who won the European Junior title three times. Four of them became World Champion later in their career. Ulla Werbrouck even Olympic Champion, Edith Bosch won three Olympic medals.
Georgios Azoidis (GRE)
Ulla Werbrouck (BEL)
Edith Bosch (NED)
Kate Howey (GBR)
Rafal Kubacki (POL)
Carine Varlez (FRA)
Follow the European Junior Championships again this weekend and watch the photos in our gallery.