Edition No. 26. Spring, 2001. Today is

2001 Hyundai Millennium Cup
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY 4th March 2001

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By: Simon Hicks

With the score standing at 6 wins to Asia and 5 wins to Europe Kosei Inoue steps onto the mat. An ippon from Inoue will mean almost certain victory for Asia and a place in the final of the Millenium Cup for his continent. But his opponent is Antal Kovacs of Hungary, the 1992 Olympic champion, and he has beaten Inoue before, two years ago, here, in the Hungarian Cup. Since then Inoue has won everything: the World Championships, the Tournoi de Paris and the Olympic Games. He is an
ippon machine, apparently unbeatable, and Judo’s greatest star.

"Hajime" The fight starts. The atmosphere is electric. Europe have clawed themselves back from 4 - 0 down, and now it all rests on Kovacs, in front of his home crowd. The other semi-final between Pan-America and Africa & Oceania has already finished in an 8 - 5 victory to Pan-America, so all the attention is now focussed on the one mat. With one minute gone Inoue launches his first big attack, a right Uchi-mata. Kovacs rides the attack and chases the Japanese fighter on the ground, hunting for Juji-gatame. "Matte". The next exchange Kovacs attempts his Sumi-gaeshi. Inoue brushes the attack off with ease. Another right
Uchi-mata from Inoue, followed by a driving O-uchi-gari. Kovacs tries the Sumi-gaeshi again, and this time he moves Inoue. Kovacs is growing in confidence. Inoue attempts the drop Seoi-nage but he has no grip and Kovacs tears after him, throwing the right arm and launching three Uchi-mata attacks in rapid succession. On the third he throws his arm across into right Uchi-mata-maki-komi and the unthinkable happens. Inoue flies. With total control Kovacs plants him on his back. Ippon! The stadium erupts, Kovacs throws his arms into the air. The invincible champion has been stunningly beaten!

Now Europe has the crowd behind them and the psychological edge. The stadium has become a boiling cauldron and Tswetlana Bojilova from Bulgaria grinds out a 5 point victory over Seon-Young Kim to put Europe ahead, 7 wins to 6, 52 points to 60 points. It is all down to the last fight. Yeldos Ishangeliev (KAZ) must score Ippon on Alexandre Mikhaylin (RUS) for Asia to win. He commits himself to a massive left Maki-komi but Mikhaylin counters with right Ko-soto and secures a vice like Kami-shiho-gatame. The crowd stamp and clap as the seconds tick away.
Ishangeliev makes a massive bridge but he cannot shift the Russian. Amid scenes of jubilation Europe win 6 - 8 and progress to the final.

In the other semi-final the Pan-American team, totally made up of Cubans, has been run surprisingly close by the combined team from Africa & Oceania. The score of 8 wins to 5, 72 points to 43 is closer than anyone expected and the Tunisian +100 Kgs fighter Anis Chedly produces a massive Ippon on Rigobert Trujillo (CUB) to finish the match.

Over lunch everyone is buzzing about the excitement created by the Europe v Asia match and the great spirit that has materialised in the continental teams. This is the first time that men and women have fought alongside each other in international teams and it is proving to be a great success.

For the two medal matches the stadium is packed. Asia demolish Africa & Oceania as expected. The Asian women prove to be the backbone of the team and win all of their fights. Even the Olympic bronze medallist Maria Peckli (AUS) cannot stop her opponent, Hyung-Joo Mim (KOR) and goes down by yuko. However not everything goes to plan for Asia and there is one major upset in the men’s -66 Kgs when Ayed Makrem of Tunisia produces a stunning ippon Te-guruma on Torii Tomoo (JPN). Without a doubt this is one of the throws of the tournament and the crowd whistle and cheer their appreciation. Tom Hill (AUS) also manages
a waza-ari win in the -73 Kgs over Malek Moo Hamed (IRI). His brother Mathew Hill (AUS) fights a very close contest against Tadoyoshi Takheshita (JPN), and is drawing the fight well into the last minute, but is eventually thrown for ippon with a beautifully timed right drop Seoi-nage. Kosei Inoue returns to the mat, apparently unphased by his earlier defeat, to take on Sadek Khalgui (TUN) and produces a stunning right Ko-soto-gari into right Harai-goshi combination that has the crowd in raptures. The final score is 11 wins to 3, 100 points to 27.

And so to the final: Europe vs. Pan-America. The European team is fighting without most of its stars. Of the Europeans who won the Hungarian Cup only Heavyweight Alexandre Mikhaylin (RUS) at +100 Kgs remains. Olympic Champion Mark Huizinga has returned to the Netherlands and the Spanish women, including Ursula Martin and Isabel Fernandez have also departed. But the morale in the team following their victory over Asia is high. Vitali Makarov, the World silver medallist at -73 Kgs is particularly fired up. It was his win against Asia that turned the tide
in the previous match and he loves the crowd and the atmosphere. The Pan-American team is totally Cuban, and though they too are without their Olympic champions their morale is sky high. They know they cannot lose. The might of Europe must be able to beat one small Island. If they do not it will be a major triumph for Cuba.

The teams line up: Pan-America in blue, Europe in white, men and women united. At the first weight, -48 Kgs, Pan-America expect a victory. Danieska Carrion (CUB) was the individual winner in the Hungarian Cup and defeated her opponent Lioubov Brouletova (RUS) in the semi-final. But Brouletova rises to the occasion, and drives the Cuban over with an O-uchi leg grab for yuko, extricates the trapped leg and pins her with Mune-gatame for Ippon. 1 - 0 to Europe. In the -60 Kgs Franck Chambilly (FRA) faces Leonidos Mena (CUB). The Cuban is penalised to chui, once for passivity and once for a false attack. Chambilly gets a shido for
turning over the sleeve end but wins the fight. 2 - 0 to Europe. Saimur Calderon (CUB) pulls one back for for Pan-America, defeating Victoria Volotova by virtue of a false attack shido. 2 - 1 to Europe. At -66 Kgs David Somerville (GBR) faces the World bronze medallist Yordanis Arencibia. Somerville dominates the early part of this exciting fight, coming very close with a right Yoko-sutemi-waza, and Arencibia comes back in the latter half nearly scoring with his back carry Sode-tsuri-komi-goshi, but the fight ends in a draw. The score is still 2 - 1 to Europe.

But now Europe take charge with 3 consecutive ippon victories. Mischa Soukalova (CZE) throws Zurisledis Lupete (CUB) with O-uchi-gari in the -57 Kgs. Vitali Makarov (RUS), at -73 Kgs, survives a full standing Kata-guruma attempt by Hector Lombard (CUB) before throwing him with a superb Yoko-tomoe-nage and then proceeds to whip the crowd up into a frenzy of excitement. Tatiana Papouchina, a new emerging star from Russia, gets caught with a leg grab by Anais Hernandez (CUB), but twists in the air and amazingly applies a devastating Juji-gatame as she lands to win the -63 Kgs and give Europe a 5 - 1 lead. It is beginning to look like a formality. But the Cuban spirit is high and they come storming back. Gabriel Arteaga (CUB) throws Alexandre Konovalov (RUS) for
Waza-ari with Koshi-guruma and forces him up to Keikoku for the 10 point win in the -81 Kgs, Zulueta Regla (CUB) produces a massive Ura-nage to smash Tatiana Koutpova (RUS) for ippon, and Yosvanne Despaigne (CUB) throws Khassandi Taov (RUS) for Waza-ari with an O-uchi-gari leg grab and winds him up to Keikoku to bring the score to Europe 5, Pan-America 4. When Heidi Rakels (BEL) goes down to Yurisel Laborde’s O-uchi-gari for yuko in the -78 Kgs the scores are level at 5 - 5 with the points 45 - 38 in Europe’s favour. It is looking like it could go to the wire and David Somerville and Yordanis Arencibia might even have to fight a
decider! Just in case, they start to tape up again.

Antal Kovacs (HUN) comes out in front of his home crowd again and throws Fran Vidal (CUB) with a sweetly timed Sumi-gaeshi to put Europe back in the lead 6 - 5. Now it is down to the heavyweights and Estella Rodriguez (CUB), the Atlanta Olympic silver medallist comes out full of confidence against Tswetlana Bojilova (BUL) in the +78 Kgs. In the first attack of the fight she launches her massive left Uchi-mata. But Bojilova is ready for her, and locking on with Ko-soto-gari drives the massive Cuban onto her back for an Ippon that reverberates around the stadium. As the referee raises his arm, the crowd go wild. Overcome with emotion
Bojilova collapses in tears. The applause goes on and on. Europe have won a famous victory. To complete the match Alexander Mikhaylin (RUS) drives Rigobert Trujillo (CUB) over into Kami-shiho-gatame and holds him for the required 25 seconds as the crowd clap and stamp in unison. Victory is complete, the final score 8 - 5 to Europe, 75 points to 38. The Hyundai Millennium Cup is presented to the European Judo Union.

The atmosphere created at this event has rarely been matched: men and women from different nations have cheered and cried for each other and the audience has been treated to a magnificent series of contests. This is our sport shown at its best, under theatrical lighting, on one mat, in an incredibly dramatic programme lasting only 3 hours and clear proof that Judo can be a truly great spectator sport. Heidi Rakels, a veteran member of the European team, declares it the best atmosphere she has ever experienced. The Hungarian Judo Federation are to be congratulated for hosting such a great tournament in tremendous style. Most people present feel sure that this will become a regular item on the IJF calendar and though Europe may have the Cup the real winner here in Budapest has been Judo.



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Tadashi Nomura (JPN)

Yordanis Arenciba (CUB)

Ferrid Kheder (FRA)

Maarten Arens (NED)

Frederic Demontfaucon (FRA)

Kosei Inoue (JPN)

Yasuyuki Muneta (JPN)


Atsuko Nagai (JPN)

Liu Yuxiang (CHI)

Magali Baton (FRA)

Jung Sung-Sook (KOR)

Ulla Werbrouck (BEL)

Edinanci F. Silva (BRA)

Yuan Hua (CHI)

Web Site developed and maintained by Sonic Boom Creative Media Inc. ©2005
All photographs copyright © Bob Willingham 2005 unless otherwise stated.

Editor and Photographer: Bob Willingham
Chief Reporters: Barnaby Chesterman and Simon Hicks
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