Edition No. 25. Winter, 2000. Today is

By: Bob Willingham

There were no surprises in the finals of the most recent European Team Championships for Men and Women held in the town of Aalst in Belgium. The Belgian Judo Federation had gone to great lengths to ensure that the ultimate stadium layout had been created along side the excellent organisation of the event. A tiered series of seating for the Officials and VIP's ensured that referees and media teams were all on one side of the fighting area thus allowing spectators clear viewing from the other three. All medal fights were directly broadcast live on Belgian TV.

The French women's team took Gold despite a brave effort by the Romanian side, with the women from Belgium and the Netherlands each taking home a Bronze. The fight of the weekend was between Marie Claire Restoux FRA and Dinea ROM in the -52kg's. The contest was full of committed attacks by Restoux with equally committed counters from Dinea. Huge techniques resulted with each player being thrown but twisting out reducing the score.

The British women started against France, and then met the Dutch for Bronze. Unfortunately, losing both matches meant no medals this time. Against France 5:2 ( wins for Roberts & Callender), and against the Netherlands 4:3 (wins for Brien, Roberts & Rogers)

The British men were seeded after winning Silver last year and so had a bye in the first round. Their first fight was against Romania, fielding a formidable team, who had already beaten the Belgian's . Johnson, Warren and Preston all won their fights so the score was 3:1 to GBR as Gordon came out to challenge the current -90Kg European Champion, Croitoru. Exhibiting his flare for rising to the occasion Gordon scored Ippon with a Harai-goshi makikomi.

Now in the final, Great Britain started really wonderfully leading 2:0 after two contests, with Johnson winning by a Yuko to a Koka and Warren managing to hold down Cormao for Ippon, winning in style. But the French team began to fight back and finally collected enough points for victory. The first men's Bronze medal fight was between the Belgian home team and the Netherlands which created a tremendous atmosphere and eventually ended with a very popular victory for the "Sasha boys". The second Bronze was a major success for a very young German team.


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