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    Experience counts at Junior European Championships

    Russia and France had the best juniors at the first European Championships in Luxembourg since 55 years. The Russian claimed four gold medals, France three. The Juniors were relieved to fight again at top level in Europe and showed their best. Some really came out well of the corona period, although many competed ed of last year in Porec at the same Junior Championships.

    The event had some great new champions in the three days event. Heavyweights Lea Fontaine of France and Richard Sipocz prolonged their titles achieved ten months ago. Not every athlete could hold the title. Ilia Sulamanidze won the title in 2020 but the World Championships bronze medallist now finished third. French Faiza Mokdar won the U52kg final in 2020 but this time lost her final, however one weight up, another great performance in her new category U57kg that was won by Kerem Primo who recently also won a cadet European title.

    Russia performed well with four titles for Ibragimgadzhi Suleimanov U81kg, Matvey Kanikovskiy who won the U100kg title and the lightweights Irena Khubulova U48kg and Liliia Nugaeva U52kg.

    Frenchman Romain Valadier Picard surprised with a European title U60kg. What the Russians women did in the lightweights, the French man did U60kg and U66kg with double titles for Valadier Picard and Maxime Gobert who won U66kg. One of the main surprises was the gold medal for Romanian Adrian Sulca in the competitive category U73kg. Sulca defeated Slovenian Jus Mecilosek in a lively final.

    Georgia celebrated the gold medal Nika Kharazishvili in his final against Tigo Renes of the Netherlands. Maybe they counted on a second gold medal for Sulamanidze but it was Matvey Kanikovskiy who defeated Zsombor Veg in the final U100kg. Sipocz overcame another Georgian finalist Saba Inaneishvili on Saturday.

    In the women’s finals on Friday Katarina Kristo was a major surprise U63kg. The Croatian highlighted an excellent championship for the Croatians with three medals as U70kg Lara Cvjetko took silver, but she couldn’t prevent Ukrainian Nataliia Chystiakova from taking the gold. The Saturday’s finals were exciting with two German women and two Dutch made it to the semi finals. Yael van Heemst defeated Raffaela Igl in the semi and Anna Monta Olek overcame Lieke Derks. Van Heemst and Olek held each-other in balance and a golden score was needed for the decision when Olek threw Van Heemst and landed in oseikomi to finish the match, in a high level final and a payback of Olek's loss in Prague's European Cup. Igl and Derks took bronze and Germany captured three medals this event, the Dutch took five and were the best country that didn’t win a gold medal. Olke became the youngest champion this year who turned 19 in August. It was for the first time since 2007 that there were only winners of 19 and 20. In 2007 where the age limit was U20 years, there were only winners of 18 and 19 years.

    Luxembourg finally had its championship that was cancelled last year and Porec was able to take over. One month for the World Championships in Olbia, the juniors are warmed up for the block buster event of their year.

    This article was originally published on www.judoinside.com

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