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Surprising finals at European Open in Sofia
30 Jan 2016 18:00
Russia became the only nation with two gold medals at the opening day of the first European Open of the important 2016 season. Although the Euro Open only hosted one athlete in the top 10, the level of some categories was still very attractive to see.
Russia had three chances for a gold medal and captured two, the first gold was realized in the women's division U48kg by Maria Persidskaia who defeated Milica Nikolic of Serbia. Persidskaia won all her four matches and was on the tatami for more than 15 minutes. Noa Minsker (ISR) and Kristina Rumyantseva (RUS) took bronze. Persidskaia said: I am really happy to be able to win the gold medal here. Before the competition I was analysing my opponents whom I could possibly face during this tournament. I analysed not only of how could I win against them but how would they react to my movements.
Despite the strong Korean team, there were just two final places for the women. U52kg the gold medal was earned by Ayse Arca of Turkey who won her first World Cup. Arca overcame Korean Park Da-Sol in the final. In 2012 Arca was in the final of the World Cup in Istanbul in 2012 where she won silver but since then she was dry. Arca realised it's a long road to Rio. “If I want to go to the Olympic Games, I knew I have to win the gold medal here today. In the final, it was clear to me that I can win the fight even thought I was behind. I knew that if I gave my best and I continue to put her under pressure I can win the fight.” Former European Champion Penelope Bonna of France and Zhanna Stankevich (ARM) took bronze U52kg.
Loredana Ohai of Romania successfully fought the favourite U57kg for this tournament, Bulgarian Ivelina Ilieva who defended her title in the final. But it was Ohai who took her first World Cup victory. The Romanian champion (U63kg) and European U23 Champion was 2-2 in head2heads but changed it into 3-2, sweet as gold, for the first time in a final. Italian Maria Centracchio won bronze as well as Israelian Timna Nelson Levy. The Romanian winner said to the EJU: “It is my second medal at a European Open but it is my first gold medal. I am very happy, it is a great start of this year for me. I want to progress in every tournament and I want to take every medal I possibly can. To win the gold medal here was already in my thoughts since two weeks but when I woke up this morning it was clear to me to win it.”
The category U63kg was for Dutch Jennifer Wichers. She won her third European Open, each year one, but 2016 starts early for De Wringer who defeated Korean Bak Ji-Yun in the final. Most of the seeded players reached the final stages and Wichers could improve last year’s bronze. “I tried very hard today, I really wanted to win today… I struggled at the beginning of the day but as the day gone along I started to get better. The second contest was my hardest today because I have lost against her last year at the Universiade in Korea so now I was very eager to win and keep up with the tempo.” French Marielle Pruvost won two weeks ago in Tunis and now she captured bronze in Sofia. A surprise was the medal by multiple Slovak champion Ivana Komlosiova who reached the semi final and defeated Belarus fighter Daniela Kazanoi for bronze.
Russia leads the medal table after day 1, followed by Belarus, Azerbaijan, Netherlands, Romania and Turkey who all celebrated gold today.
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