Five European titles is no mean achievement by anyone's standards but when simply earning
the place in your national team is as hard as it is in Russia, to go on and win those five
titles is truly remarkable. But that is exactly what Tamerlan Tmenov managed when he sensationally
dumped the mammouth Spaniard Aythumi Ruano flat on his back for an incredible Ippon.
The grizzly and stocky Olympic medallist was giving away almost his entire body weight
again to the 200kg-plus Ruano but he dominated the final from the start. Tmenov outgripped
Ruano and dragged him around the mat before applying the coup-de-grace as a counter to a
weak attack from the Spaniard. He sent him crashing down to the mat with Tani-otoshi before
leaping into the air with delight.
That made it a Russian double in the men's heavyweight divisions after Alexander Mikhailine
had won the Open category on day 1. It was also enough to ensure Russia topped the medal
table once again. Ruano made it to the final after two stunning victories. He dumped Dennis
van der Geest of the Netherlands with a splendid Ashi-guruma, although unusually off his
right-hand side. The Maki-komi he produced in the semi-final to beat Belarus' Yury Rybek
was equally impressive.
Rybek had been in fine fettle and made short work of Romania's Gabriel Munteanu in the bronze
medal contest. It was one-way traffic from the start as first Rybek threw him for Waza-ari
with a rolling Uchi-mata counter and then he dumped him for Ippon with a stooping Kata-guruma.
Paolo Bianchessi of Italy joined him on the podium with a hard fought victory against the
impressive Estonian Martin Padar.
At the other end of the scale to Tmenov was Itlay's Lucia Morico who won her first European
title in the under 78kg division. This amiable Italian had to wait some time for her opportunity
as she used to be behind Emmanuela Pierantozzi in the pecking order. She won silver in 2000
in the Open and again took silver last year. But she benefited from the elimination of serial-winner
Celine Lebrun of France in the quarter-final. Morico faced Spain's Raquel Prieto and triumphed
by a single penalty score in a tactical battle.
Lebrun managed to salvage some pride by taking bronze although she looked less than impressed
despite a polished performance to beat Claudia Zwiers of the Netherlands. Lebrun was determined
and took Zwiers to the ground with an Osoto-maki-komi before pinning her for the victory.
Germany celebrated another medal as Jenny Karl did just enough to beat Poland's Barbara
Wojcicka on penalties.
The men's under 100kg category produced an intriguing mix of styles in its latter stages
with several west or central Europeans matched against east Europeans. Elco van der Geest,
champion last year, produced a magnificent Koshi-guruma to beat Georgia's Iveri Jikurauli
in the semi-final and set up a final against the man he deposed, Israel's Ariel Zeevi. He
had squeezed past the powerful Belarussian Ihar Makarau by Yuko in a bruising encounter.
But the old triumphed over the new in the final as Zeevi quickly took van der Geest over
backwards with a subtle Ouchi-gari leg-grab.
The bronze medal contests also threw up the interesting contrasts and honours were even
at the finish. Hungary's former World and Olympic champion Antal Kovacs overcame several
difficulties before pinning Jikurauli for Ippon with Ushiro-kesa-gatame. But the other bronze
fight went the way of the east as Makarau just fended off a spirited by tiring challenge
from Germany's Daniel Guerschner. He had produced three fantastic Uchi-mata throws throughout
the day - easily the best three throws of the day - but somehow came away empty-handed.
The last category to be decided was the women's over 78kg and that was another to be won by
a past winner. Britain's Karina Bryant made up for a disappointing 2002 by sending Russia's
Tea Dongouzachvili crashing down to the mat in the final with Tani-otoshi. The Russian had
drawn first blood, scoring Yuko with an Ouchi-gari leg-grab, but Bryant knew what she wanted
to do and eventually made the decisive breakthrough. She waited for the perfect moment to
counter and then dragged the Russian over backwards for Ippon and the title.
Germany had one more celebration to enjoy with last year's champion Sandra Koeppen recovering
from her semi-final defeat against Dongouzachvili to take bronze with a brilliant display
against France's Anne Sophie Mondiere. Koeppen finished her off with a beautiful Uchi-mata
for Ippon to prove that size is no hindrance to exemplary technique. Belgium's Marie Elis
Veys won the other bronze medal with victory against Spain's Susana Somolinos, winning by
Waza-ari with a Kosoto-gari variation.
|European Championships 2003
KHERGIANI, Nestor (GEO)
DARBELET, Benjamin (FRA)
BILODID, Gennadiy (UKR)
ASCHWANDEN, Sergei (SUI)
GREKOV, Valentyn (UKR)
ZEEVI, Ariel (ISR)
MIKHAYLIN, Alexandre (RUS)
TMENOV, Tamerlan (RUS)
BROULETOVA, Lioubov (RUS)
EURANIE, Annabelle (FRA)
FERNANDEZ, Isabel (ESP)
ALVAREZ, Sara (ESP)
SRAKA, Rasa (SLO)
MORICO, Lucia (ITA)
BRYANT, Karina (GBR)
BEINROTH, Katrin (GER)