6 July 2024


Tallinn European Open 2024


Day one of the Tallinn European Open 2024 showed promise for the young hopefuls of Estonia Judo.

The home crowd had reason to celebrate in the semi final with Emma-Melis AKTAS (EST). Only last week Aktas competed in the Cadet European Championships and in the +78kg semi final, took on the current Junior European Champion, Paulien SWEERS (NED). It was Aktas to put the first score on the board, throwing with o uchi gari, matched by another o uchi gari from Sweers with a minute left on the clock. After four and a half minutes of gruelling golden score, Aktas sealed the deal for Estonia Judo with a huge ashi guruma, putting her in the final. There, she will meet Ruslana BULAVINA (UKR) who defeated Erica SIMONETTI (ITA). The Italian athlete simply couldn’t keep up with the onslaught of attacks and instead ceded three shidos.

In the -60kg category, Maximilian HEYDER (GER) took on Hubert PIECZYNSKI (POL) which was great entertainment from two dynamic judo, an initial sumi gaeshi form Heyder put him in the lead, but shortly after was matched. Despite the even score, Heyder stuck to his plan and was able to score with sumi gaeshi for a second time to take his place in the final. There he will meet Bart WELING (NED) who succeeded over Olivier NAERT (BEL) with an interesting kata guruma. It will be the third time Weling and Heyder have met in competition this year, and with a 1:1 record, there is all to play for.

Germany were guaranteed a place in the -63kg final as Hanna SEDLMAIR (GER) and Viktoria FOLGER (GER) went head to head in the first semi final. It was a tough one for the women, but in the end, Sedlmair was the winner based on the accumulation of shidos for Folger. Sedlmair will now meet Kamile NALBAT (NED) in the final. Nalbat baited Carlotta AVANZATO (ITA) in their semi final, waiting for the perfect moment, and executed a waza ari-scoring ura nage to clinch her win.

Jusuf NURKOVIC (MNE) © Rui Telmo Romão

Georgios BALARJISHVILI (CYP) and Jusuf NURKOVIC (MNE) had an extremely hard decider for the -66kg final, going in to golden score. Balajishvili put himself in at a disadvantage by picking up two shidos, forcing him in to a desperate attack, and then Nurkovic countered a drop seoi nage. It was a terrific performance from Nurkovic today, who will be setting sights on the Senior European Championships next year in Montenegro, but there is still one more challenge ahead. Romaric Wend-Yam BOUDA (FRA) executed some stunning technique today, and in his semi final against Vadym CHERNOV (UKR) he was attacked with de ashi barai, but Chernov was met with the stone wall of Bouda, who used his opponents momentum to throw him.

Naturally there were great expectations for the top seed in the -70kg category, Miriam BUTKEREIT (GER). The last time we saw the WRL #8 was in the European Championships in April, though she won her quarter final round, she was unable to step on the tatami for her subsequent contests. After a short stint in Benidorm this week for the OTC, she seems comfortable in competition and in her preparation for the Olympic Games. Butkereit won her semi final today against Gabrielle BARBAUD (FRA), sealing the final place after an ashi waza clinch. It’ll be an all-German final in this category, against Bertille MURPHY, who won against Ludovica FRANZOSI (ITA) in her side of the draw after securing the osae komi.

Miriam BUTKEREIT (GER) © Rui Telmo Romão

The German theme continued in to the -73kg category, with an all-German semi final between Jano RUEBO (GER) Lennard SLAMBERGER (GER) it was hard fought, but again in the national rivalry, it was a shido conclusion with Ruebo taking the place in the final. Chusniddin KARIMOV (CZE) had been explosive throughout the preliminaries and he wasn’t about to give up his place in the final. Niels THIJSSEN (NED) put up a great fight, but succumbed to a huge o soto gari attack from Karimov that earned him a contest-winning waza ari.

Not only have Germany secured some final spots, but regardless of the final result in the -78kg category, we will be hearing the German national anthem. First up, Migle Julija DUDENAITE (LTU) suffered defeat at the hands of Julie HOELTERHOFF (GER), after only 35 seconds, Hoelterhoff managed to take the win with a switch, looking as if throwing forward, she changed direction to score ippon with o uchi gari. On the other half of the draw, it didn’t go so swiftly for Mathilde Sophie NIEMEYER (GER), however she persevered against Paulina DZIOPA (POL) and caught her with a stunning de ashi barai.


Author: Thea Cowen