Edition No. 34. Winter, 2003. Today is

European Championships 2003
Dusseldorf, Germany: May 16 - 19, 2003
Day 3

By: Barnaby Chesterman

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.

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DARBELET, Benjamin (FRA)

BILODID, Gennadiy (UKR)


GREKOV, Valentyn (UKR)

ZEEVI, Ariel (ISR)

MIKHAYLIN, Alexandre (RUS)

TMENOV, Tamerlan (RUS)




EURANIE, Annabelle (FRA)





BRYANT, Karina (GBR)


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