European Judo Championships
May 16-19, 2002
Day Four - May 19 , 2002
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| The fourth
and final day of the European Championships was set aside for the team event.
And unlike recent years, there was an impressive entry. The men's competition
had 15 teams, an unprecedented number compared to recent years.
Considering the success of Eastern European fighters in the individual championships,
their teams had to be the favourites, although France had a very strong team
out. And it was France that poroduced the first shock-waves in their second
round tie against Russia. The French raced in to an unassailable 4-0 lead
to emphatically stamp their authority on proceedings. Russia took the last
three rubbers, but the damage was already done.
Hungaru had caused a surprise by beating Germany but it was the Eastern Europeans
who impressed the most. Particularly Georgia who were fighting with just six
competitors. Georgia moved easily past Turkey and Slovenia to set up a semi-final
encounter with Ukraine.
That looked likely to be a tense encounter, but the Georgians were inspired
and waltzed into a 4-2 lead to book their place in the final. Many thought
they would take their place alongside France, but Belarus produced the finest
display of the tournament so far in dispatching the French with consumate
Newly-crowned European champion, Yacine Douma, gave the French a 1-0 lead,
but thereafter it was one-way traffic - for Belarus. They stormed into a 3-1
lead and then Siarhei Kukharenko produced the throw of the team event, spinning
Lionel Hugonnier over for ippo with Hiza-guruma.
So it was Belarus and Georgia in the final, with the Georgians conceeding
the 66kg rubber. Nestor Khergiani, who won every fight throughout the day,
gave Georgia the lead, but then Belarus raced into a 3-1 advantage. Again,
up stepped Kukharenko top finish off the job. But he was dispatched by Zurab
Zviadauri and suddenly the complexion changed on the final.
When Iveri Jikurauli also beat Igor Makarov, the impossible suddenly seemed
likely. Belarus' Ruslan Sharapov was hobbling, and Georgia's Alexsei Davitashvili
was the clear favourite to turn the tie in favour of Georgia. That he did
and for possibly the first time ever, a team of six won the team event.
The women's was a little more straight-forward. France appeared to be the
favourites, and they did not disappoint. A few other teams had their moments
- such as Slovenia who knocked out the Netherlands and then Poland. But once
they had knocked out Russia, France never looked back.
They moved smoothly into the final against Great Britain, who beat Sloveia
in the semi-final. It started out as a close encounter, with Frederic Jossinet
struggling past a spirited performance from 17-year-old Sophie Johnstone.
Then the excellent Georgina Singleton leveled matters with a brilliant ippon
against Laetitia Tignola in golden score time.
But thereafter, it was all France and Britain did not register another point
until Karina Bryant won a hum-dinger against Eva Bisseni in the last rubber
of the day.
Russia went on to claim bronze, as did the Netherlands who put out a stronger
team than they had done against Slovenia. Russia's men had also come back
to win bronze, and joined France on the podium after they trounced Great Britain.
DOUMA, Yacine (FRA)
UNGVARI Miklos (HUN)
LARYUKOV, Anatoly (BLR)
UZNADZE, Irakli (TUR)
GREKOV, Valentyn (UKR)
VAN DER GEEST, Elco (NED)
TMENOV, Tamerlan (RUS)
VAN DER GEEST, Dennis (NED)
JOSSINET, Frédérique (FRA)
SINGLETON, Georgina (GBR)
CAVAZZUTI, Cinzia (ITA)
DECOSSE, Lucie (FRA)
DADCI, Adriana (POL)
LEBRUN Celine (FRA)
KÖPPEN, Sandra (GER)
GERBER Katja (GER)