France became the glorious winner of the first qualification event of the year, the African Open in Tunis. Not with 8 gold medals like last year, but five titles is still impressive enough. Also at the second day France had five finallists, the outcome was different. With 19 medals Les Blues took 34% of the available medals. Slovenia, Tunisia and Estonia all won two gold medals in Tunis.
The first guaranteed title for France was in the category U81kg where Dimitri Gomes Tavares and Julian Kermarrec had to decide an all French final. It was Gomes Tavares who won the gold. Last year he won the African Open in Casablanca in March.
Where three French stood on the podium U81kg, two Slovenians won a medal U90kg. It was Mihael Zgank who surprisingly won the gold. Zgank defeated 34 year old Nicolas Brisson (FRA) in the final.
Surprising were the two gold medals for Estonia. Grigori Minaskin captured the gold U100kg and Juhan Mettis +100kg. Over the last 5 years Estonia didn’t win any World Cup title, in 2016 two in the first event! The last title was for heavyweight Martin Padar in 2010 in Rome, Mettis is his successor. Minaskin overcame Guram Tushishvili of Georgia in the final where Mettis defeated Jean-Sebastien Bonvoisin (FRA) in the plus category.
Despite the age of some of the finallists, none of the winners is older than 30 years and Marie Eve Gahie was the exponent of the winners who kept the age low. After Martin Hojak’s victory (18) on Saturday Gahie was the second youngest, but the youngest who prolonged last year’s title. Gahie defeated Houda Miled, just like last year, but that was the 1/8 final, now the Tunisian homeplayer finished with silver, a good progression. The teenager from France met Slovenian Anka Pogacnik in last year’s final, now both met in the second round. But Pogacnik came back and won bronze after all. To finish the story, last year’s bronze medallist Lola Mansour (BEL) also won the bronze this time.
The third French title of today was for Garry Christelle U78kg. She improved her silver medal of last year as she defeated 36-year old Yahima Ramirez. The Portuguese veteran was the only non French on the podium as Madeleine Malonga won bronze as well. Christelle Garry claimed her second World Cup victory, in 2014 she won in Madrid.
Who else than Nihel Cheikh Rouhou should win the gold medal in Tunis, and she did. In the final the number five of the World Ranking defeated French Lucie Louette, the former European champion who switched to +78kg last year successfully with gold in Tunis, today Cheikh Rouhou took revenge for that loss.
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