Edition No. 37. Winter, 2003. Today is

European Team Championship 2003
London: Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre
December 6, 2003
A competition which began back in May in Dusseldorf, Germany, came down to a straight fight between four teams at the Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre in London. Britain qualified as hosts but the three formidable opponents dispatched the likes of France, Germany and Holland to reach this stage. For the first time since 1974 the European Team championships returned to British shores in front of a capacity crowd.

The British team arrived more in hope than expectation, despite an admirable track record in recent years including Silver medals in 1999 and 2000. But the eminence of Eastern European teams ever since the end of the 1990s has been such that the British were clear underdogs. And with the likes of Craig Fallon and Matthew Purssey missing it was always going to be a tall order to come away with anything. They were due on the mat in the second semi-final against Georgia and so had to fidget nervously for 45 minutes while Spain and Ukraine did battle for a place in the final.

The Ukrainians were certainly the favourites to proceed, boasting two individual European Champions and a World Championship Bronze medallist among their ranks. But despite their impressive team on paper, it was the Spanish who gained the early advantage. Kenji Uematsu won the opening bout for the Spanish but Sergiy Morokhovets quickly levelled matters by winning the -66kg contest for Ukraine. However the tide turned in Spain’s favour at -73kg as Kioshi Uematsu edged out European Champion Gennadiy Bilodid. That was the first significant scalp for the Iberians and after Ilya Chymchyuri blitzed World semi-finalist Richard Echarte to restore parity for Ukraine, the Spanish took their second scalp. The 1996 world junior champion David Alarza totally out-gripped and out-thought Ukraine’s other European Champion, Valentyn Grekov at -90kg. That put the Spanish just one win away from a place in the final and Ivan Vega delivered in a tactical -100kg battle against Ruslan Mashurenko. Jose de Mingo was bounced for Ippon with one of the throws of the day by Yevgen Sotnikov’s huge Sode-tsuri-komi-goshi but it was not enough for the east Europeans.

And so to the second semi-final, Britain against the reigning champions, Georgia. It was always going to be a tall order, and so it proved after the Brits failed to get the positive start they needed. John Buchanan could not repeat his victory from the 2001 World Championships against Nestor Khergiani, going down by Waza-ari, and from there the task looked hopeless. When James Warren was narrowly beaten by David Margoshvili a sense of forlorn realisation swept across the stadium. The experienced Georgi Revazishvili pinned Ian Francis for Ippon with Kata-gatame at -73kg and Britain needed to win the last four contests to make the final. Up stepped Euan Burton.
Fighting with the bravado and confidence we have come to associate with Billy Cussack’s fighters, Burton approached the contest like it was do or die – and he did! David Nadharia looked like a little bunny caught in headlights when faced by Burton’s aggressive onslaught. He bowled the Georgian over for Koka with a Harai-maki-komi and quickly realised this would be the source of much success. When he scored Yuko with a second such attack, Burton found the opening he was looking for. Having bundled the Georgian to the mat he clutched Nadharia’s arm under his armpit, sat up, reached over for his opponent’s trouser leg and the hold was on – Ushiro-kesa-gatame. The 25 seconds ticked by agonisingly but Burton never looked like letting his opponent off the hook and when the buzzer sounded the stadium erupted .

It was 3-1, so there was hope as another crowd favourite, Winston Gordon, strode onto the tatami for the -90kg bout. But that flicker of hope was quickly blown out as the double World Silver medallist, Zurab Zviadauri, clinched a place in the final for Georgia with two Waza-ari scores. Sam Delahay was then thrown for Ippon with Ura-nage by Iveri Jikurauli and Danny Sargent lost by Ippon to Alexsi Davidashvili from Sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi as Britain succumbed by six bouts to one.

There was chance of redemption as the home nation faced Ukraine for the Bronze medal – (with the new format for the European Teams came another change, just one team takes Bronze). Again it was imperative to get off to a flying start, but once again – and despite the best efforts of the raucous crowd – the Brit’s challenge seemed to fizzle out almost before it began. Buchanan was thrown for Ippon by Morokhovets with a stooping Seoi-nage and one of the best hopes was gone. David Somerville stepped in for Warren at -66kg and exploded into life, toppling Sergiy Grechanyk with little fuss, using his compact frame to crawl under his opponent and roll him onto his back for Ippon with Kibisu-gaeshi. As he strode from the mat he pumped his arms to the crowd to raise the temperature to another level.

But sadly there was no great charge from there. Francis was taken down in similar fashion by Bilodid and Burton could not repeat his earlier heroics against Roman Gontyuk who eventually pinned him with Mune-gatame. Trailing 3-1 the Brits were given the faintest whiff of victory as Gordon pulled off a brilliant tactical victory against Grekov. Taking the same approach as Alarza before him, Gordon outgripped the European Champion to win by Chui although he almost pulled off a dazzling spinning Harai-goshi. It was 3-2 but that was as good as it got for the hosts. Vitaliy Polyansky produced a brilliant Uchi-mata to dump Delahay and Sotnikov threw Sargent for Ippon with an Uchi-mata twitch. So it was Ukraine who won the Bronze medal, although neither team would have gone home happy with their result – the Ukraine were certainly hoping for far more.

And so to the final. Spain rung the changes in a bid to freshen things up but the move backfired in the first two categories. Robert Cueto took over the -60kg mantle from Uematsu and was heading for a draw with Khergiani until the last 11 seconds when he conceded Koka to give the Georgians a 1-0 lead. Javier Pedro stepped in for Oscar Penas and enjoyed a brutal rumble against Margoshvili but he too came up short. The final was threatening to slip away from the Spanish until the brilliant Kioshi Uematsu stepped forward to embarrass Revazishvili, a former European Champion. Uematsu toyed with his experienced opponent before throwing him for Yuko with Tomoe-nage and then nonchalantly tripping him backwards for Ippon with Ko-uchi-gari.

The final reserve made his entrance next as Oscar Fernandez stepped into the breach at -81kg. He was on fire and made short work of Nadharia, throwing him for Yuko with Kochiki-taioshi before slamming him into the mat for Ippon with a thumping Te-guruma. And the scores were all square. It was hotting up into an incredible final, but Georgia wrestled the initiative back again as Zviadauri threw Alarza for Ippon with Kata-guruma. There were two contests to go and the score was 3-2, Spain could not afford to lose. Step forward Vega who scrapped and wrestled his way to a draw with Jikurauli although he was unlucky not to get more. With just one contest to go and the Spanish number three heavyweight de Mingo to come, the small but noisy Georgian contingent in the crowd found their full voice. It was too much to expect for de Mingo to upset Davidashvili and he was pinned for Ippon, giving Georgia the title again.

So, disappointing for the British, but a thrilling afternoons judo nonetheless.

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TRINDADE, de Habreud (NCL)

LALLUT, Antony (TAH)


PAPAI, Jerome (NCL)

QEREWAQA, Nacanelli (FIJ)

NACENELI Qerewaqa: (FIJ)

Gold: FIJI
Silver: New Caledonia
Bronze: Tahiti



DULAC Helene (NCL)



KADDOUR, Melissa (NCL)





Gold: FIJI
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