Edition No. 30. Spring, 2002. Today is
2002 European Judo Championships
Maribor, Slovenia
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 ease.

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.

Barnaby Chesterman
IJF Journalist

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European Championships 2002



DOUMA, Yacine (FRA)




GREKOV, Valentyn (UKR)


TMENOV, Tamerlan (RUS)




JOSSINET, Frédérique (FRA)




DADCI, Adriana (POL)


KÖPPEN, Sandra (GER)


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