PARIS, FRANCE May
out our 2001 European Championships photo gallery »
Day 2: Saturday, May 19
By: Barnaby Chesterman
Men : -73 kg, -81 kg, -90 kg
Women : -63 kg, -57 kg
The second day of the European
Championships featured four reigning Olympic Champions and a partisan French
crowd that did its utmost to sway the referees at every possible turn.
But at the end of the day, it was another Belgian who stole the show as Gella
Vandecaveye equalled the feats of her compatriot the previous day. Vandecaveye
claimed her seventh European title, her sixth in a row, matching the record
of Ulla Werbrouck, although she still has a few more championships to contest
before she reaches 13 medals.
It was also a day of frustration for the spectators as, despite some early promise,
not one French fighter reached a final. In fact the finals were dominated by
former Soviet states as Eastern Europe demonstrated its strength.
Men's under 90kg
The overwhelming favourite
for this category was the Olympic champion, Mark Huizinga of the Netherlands,
and for many he was the man of the day. Huizinga took just 35 seconds to dispose
of Milan Dragic in the first round with an Ippon-seoi-nage before completely
outfighting Zurab Zviadauri of Georgia. Huizinga scored Yuko with another Seoi-nage
and then Yuko again with sode-tsuri-kommi-goshi. Zvidauri had no answer for
his attacking potency and he added another four scores, including a Wazari-ari
near the end. He made short work of Dmitri Budolin in the quarter-final, scoring
Ippon with a left Harai-goshi.
But his most impressive performance of the day came in the semi-final against
the home fighter, Frederic Demontfaucon, in a repeat of last year's semi-final.
That time, Huizinga won with a submission from Juji-jime. This time, though,
the Frenchman has cause to be more confident, on home soil and after winning
a bronze medal at last year's Olympics. He was also in fine form leading to
the semi-final, armlocking Renato Morais of Portugal and Tobias Pfeil of Germany,
and strangling Hrvoje Panzic of Croatia.
But Huizinga was at his most masterful and destroyed the Frenchman. In the first
10 seconds he scored Yuko with a left Ko-uchi-gari; in the next 10 seconds he
added a Waza-ari with Seoi-nage, and within 40 seconds the fight was over as
Huizinga threw Demontfaucon for Ippon with a Tani-otoshi. Even the French crowd
was moved to applaud a magnificent performance.
On the other side of the draw, Rassoul Salimov of Azerbaijan was in fine form,
throwing his first three opponents for Ippon with minimal fuss. Anton Novik
of Belarus was the first victim and then Andre Lutz of Austria lasted a little
longer as Salimov scored Waza-ari and Yuko, with a Khbarelli pick-up, before
scoring Ippon with Seoi-nage.Valentyn Grekov of Ukraine was quickly dispatched
and then Salimov surpassed even Huizinga's demolition of Demontfaucon in his
semi-final. Salimov needed just 22 seconds to throw Khasaambi Taov of Russia
for Ippon with Uchi-mata.
That set up an intriguing final, but it failed to live up to expectations. The
Azerbaijani seemed to freeze in the face of the Olympic champion and seemed
to accept an inevitable defeat from the off. Huizinga scored Waza-ari off a
Tani-otoshi type counter to a half-hearted Uchi-mata attack. But then Salimov
picked up three penalties in a disappointing finale to hand Huizinga his fourth
European title. The Dutchman is now certain to be the favourite at the World
Championships in Munich in July.
Demontfaucon recovered from his semi-final mauling to win the bronze medal with
a hard fought victory against Przemyslav Matyjaszek of Poland. The Pole picked
up a single penalty, which proved to be the decisive score. Taov, however, didn't
recover so well from his semi-final loss and came up against an inspired Budolin.
The Estonian scored Ippon with a brilliant Sumi-gaeshi to win his first medal
at this level.
Women's under 63kg
The focus was always going
to be on Gella Vandecaveye of Belgium as she attempted to win her seventh European
title and match the feat achieved by Ulla Werbrouck the previous day. Vandecaveye
had a tough first fight against Danielle Vriezema of the Netherlands, winning
with Yuko and two Kokas, before the Ne-waza master showed dominated the rest
of the competition on the ground.
Vandecaveye beat Urska Zolnir of Slovenia with reverse Kesa-gatame after throwing
her for Waza-ari with a Russian-style Harai-goshi. She scored Ippon with the
same hold against Noa Bauer of Israel and then had a brilliant victory in the
semi-final against Ylenia Scapin of Italy. Scapin caught Vandecaveye for Yuko
with Tani-otoshi, but she never got off the mat after that.
Vandecaveye had the Italian where she wanted her and after manoeuvring into
her favoured reverse Kesa-gatame, she secured an Ippon victory, although at
the third attempt as the referee twice called Toketa during the hold. But Vandecaveye
persevered and took her place in the final.
Everyone expected a repeat of last year's final, which would have pitted the
Belgian against Olympic champion, Severine Vandenhende of France. But she injured
her knee in the first round when throwing Radka Stusakova of Czech Republic
for Waza-ari. Stusakova did not waste her fortunate reprieve and beat Elsa Nilsson
of Sweden and Bianca Geerdts of Germany en route to the semi-final. There she
met one of the favourites, Claudia Heill of Austria, who had thrown Mersih Sijecic
of Bosnie Herzegovina and Sara Alvarez of Spain, both for Ippon.
Neither fighter had appeared in a European final before, but Heill was the most
hungry. The Austrian made short work of her opponent, scoring Ippon with Harai-maki-komi
after just over one minute. Heill was absolutely delighted and leapt into the
air several times raising both arms aloft.
That was to be the end of her celebrations, though, as Vandecaveye gave her
a lesson in the final. The Belgian scored Yuko with a left-sided drop Seoi-nage
and then rolled her over into an unorthodox hold-down that had a touch of the
Georgian under 60kg fighter, Nestor Khergiani, about it. Heill couldn't escape
so Vandecaveye claimed a seventh title, despite fighting with a stiff back.
She burst into tears as she trudged off the mat, holding up seven fingers to
The two beaten semi-finalists did have something to cheer, as both came back
to win bronze medals. Scapin was awarded a soft Ippon against Alvarez with a
falling Ko-soto-gari, and Alvarez even thought she had won. The other bronze
fight was dire as Stusakova snuffed out an injured and tiring Anna Saraeva of
Russia. Throughout the day Saraeva called on the medic to help a shoulder problem,
but a single penalty cost her a gutsy bronze medal against the Czech.
Men's under 81 kg
The Frenchman Darcel Yandzi
was given a rare chance ahead of Djamel Bouras and had high hopes of repeating
his 1993 victory. Yandzi enthralled the crowd with a brilliant victory against
the 1999 champion, Nuno Delgado, scoring Waza-ari with Sumi-gaeshi and then
pinning him with Yoko-shiho-gatame. Delgado escaped, but not for long as another
Waza-ari form Sumi-gaeshi put paid to his hopes of reclaiming the title. It
was all the more surprising as Delgado fought so well to win a bronze medal
at the Olympics last year.
Yandzi's run was short-lived though as Lacha Pipia destroyed him in the next
round. Yandzi went for some big techniques, but Pipia scored with his including
Waza-ari and Yuko with Seoi-nage and then a huge pick-up to score Ippon with
Kata-guruma. Pipia then went on a fine run, ousting Mehman Azizov of Azebaijan
by Hansoku-make and then Irakli Uznadze of Turkey by a golden score to reach
The other finalist was an inspired Alexsei Budolin of Estonia who made short
work of all his opponents. Budolin threw Luke Preston of Britain for Ippon in
just 35 seconds with his speciality rolling counter technique against an Uchi-mata
attack. Budolin seems to slide off the attacking leg and unbalance his opponents
before turning them onto their backs as they fall. Boris Novotny of Slovakia
was next to fall, before Harut Gharibyan of Armenia who had been having an excellent
tournament. Budolin lifted him shoulder high before smashing into the mat for
Ippon with Kata-guruma.
Budolin then faced the Uchi-mata specialist, Valentin Knobloch of Germany, and
there was an air of inevitability about the outcome. Knobloch attacked with
Uchi-mata and Budolin unbalanced him before turning him over for Ippon.
The final was a short affair as Budolin looked for a Te-guruma pick-up from
the beginning. Pipia, in his first European final, looked out of his depth and
lasted just 42 seconds before Budolin found the grip he was looking for. From
the outcome was in no doubt as the Russian was slammed into the mat for Ippon
as the Estonian added European gold to his Olympic bronze last year.
Yanzi was thrown for Ippon by Oscar Fernandez of Spain in the repechage final
after two hugely entertaining victories. Fernandez went on to face Knobloch
for bronze and finished him with the same technique that disposed of Yandzi,
a high Kata-guruma pick-up. Uznadze recovered from his set back to claim his
second European bronze medal. The Turk scored Ippon against Bronislaw Wolkowicz
of Poland who came all the way through the repechage after losing to Knobloch
in the first round.
Women's under 57kg
Isabel Fernandez was the
clear favourite in this category, having won Olympic gold last year in Sydney.
The Spaniard had a disappointing European Championship last year, losing a decision
to Marisabelle Lomba of Belgium, but she gained her revenge this year after
first squeezing past Britain's Jenny Brien on penalties. Fernandez led by Yuko
until deep into the last minute, when she scored Waza-ari with Te-guruma to
clinch a semi-final berth. There her tactical, stifling style put paid to Cinzia
Cavazutti of Italy, although Fernandez managed only a couple of Koka scores.
The side of the draw had the promising reigning champion from France, Barbara
Harel. The young fighter beat Kifaya Gasimova of Azebaijan with Ippon from her
favourite left Uchi-mata, but managed only a Yuko in beating Lena Goeldi of
Switzerland in the quarter-final. That put her up against Deborah Gravenstijn
of the Netherlands who has only stepped back up to under 57kg this season. Gravenstijn
threw Dragan Zivkovic of Yugoslavia for Ippon before beating Michaela Vernerova
of Czech Republic to face Harel in the semi-final.
In front of a noisy home crowd, the reigning champion scored Yuko with Ko-soto-gari,
although the crowd voice its disapproval at such a low score. And they were
even more outraged when and almost identical technique from Gravenstijn scored
Ippon just 30 seconds later. The crowd howled with derision, but the result
stood and the Dutch woman was in her first European final.
Fernandez was always the favourite and she silenced critics of her scrappy style
by winning with a fine technique. With the scores tied at a Koka apiece, Ferandez
sent Gravenstijn sprawling with a left-sided Maki-komi for Ippon. It was the
Olympic champion's third European title and demonstrates that she will once
again be tough to beat at the World championships later this year.
Harel didn't disppoint her fans in the bronze fight as she faced a strangely
out-of-sorts Pernilla Andersson, in a repeat of last year's final. That was
even being generous to Andersson who did little more than lie down after she
stepped onto the mat. Harel scored Waza-ari with another left Uchi-mata and
then added Ippon with a leg-grab, although Andersson barely looked interested
she flopped lazily onto her back, without having mounted a single attack herself.
The other beaten semi-finalist, Cavazutti, also bounced back and beat Vernerova
with a Yuko to win the second bronze medal.
Men's under 73kg
This was the fourth out
of five categories to feature a reigning Olympic champion, but by the end of
the day, he had made quite a few enemies in qualifying for the final. Guiseppe
Maddaloni of Italy did nothing wrong in beating Borce Toseski of Macedonia and
then throwing Dennis Meyer of the Netherlands for Ippon with a brilliant Ippon-seoi-nage
counter to an O-soto-gari attack. He was also still a popular figure after throwing
Nicolai Belocosov of Moldova for Ippon with Kata-guruma in the quarter-final.
But that was all before he faced Daniel Fernandes of France in the semi-final.
The Frenchman was in great form, throwing Eric Bonti of Britain for Ippon with
drop Seoi-nage in just 30 seconds in the first round. He then dispatched Miklos
Illyes of Hungary with two Waza-ari scores and then threw the Georgian, Giorgi
Revazichvili, for Ippon with a slick Ko-ouchi-gari. That was enough tp get the
home fans dreaming of a gold medal and he came so close. In a ding-dong battle
both fighters picked up two penalties and scored a Yuko, but Maddaloni won it
with a Koka score, despite the best efforts of the crowd to influence the referee
in giving the Italian more penalties. The tension was incredibly throughout
and the noise was deafening, but Fernandes just could not quite overcome the
After the fight Maddaloni responded to a chorus of boos, that were aimed more
at officialdom than himself, by waving to the crowd, who then turned their dissaproval
on him. He then had to run a torment of hate as he stepped off the mat and coolly
made his way back to the sanctuary of the dressing-room.
On the other side of the draw, Gennadi Bilodid of Ukraine was making quite progress
after David Zamora retired from his first round contest. Bilodid reached the
quarter-final by virtue of a disqualification and then threw Krzystoph Wilkomirski
of Poland for Ippon with Kata-guruma. In the semi-final he was on fire and scored
a quick Yuko with Yoko-sutemi-waza against Russia's Evgenni Karpoukhine. He
scored Waza-ari with the same technique and then booked a final berth with another
Waza-ari, this time from Kata-guruma.
In the final, Bilodid must have felt like half of the Ukraine had made it across
Europe to the Palais Omnisport in Bercy. The crowd was so anti-Maddaloni that
Bilodid might as well have been French, such was their support for him. A cocky
Maddoloni strode onto the mat with the air of a man who felt he was about to
ram all their taunts back down the crowd's combined throat. But he hadn't reckoned
with an inspired Bilodid. Maddaloni picked up a penalty for dropping, much to
the delight of the crowd, but then Bilodid gave them what they really wanted.
The Ukrainian spun underneath the Italian and flipped him over onto his back
with Sumi-gaeshi for the most popular Ippon of the day. Bilodid celebrated with
his new fans, while Maddaloni cut a dejected and lone figure and he peeled himself
off the mat.
Fernandes was possibly fighting for a place in the French World championship
team and knew he needed a medal. Afterbeing caught for a Koka with Ashi-waza
by Wilkomirski, he stormed back to dominate the bout. He scored Yuko with a
spinning Harai-goshi and then again with a spinning Uchi-mata. As his confidence
grew there was only going to be one winner and the Frenchman finished it off
with a Kata-guruma for Ippon. The other bronze medal went to Belocosov who threw
Karpoukhine for Ippon with Uchi-mata, after dominating the fight with some minor
scores to begin with.
With just one day to go
of the 50th European Judo Championships Belgium leads the medals table as the
only country with two golds. Behind Belgium eight different nationalities have
a single gold medal in one of the widest medal spreads in recent memory. Despite
winning five medals so far, the French have only one gold. But with some good
medal hopes to come tomorrow, they're still well placed to top the table on
home soil by the end of tomorrow.