The two favourite Romanian athletes for the European Open in Bucharest met the expectations taking two gold medals. Other interesting topics were the return of Austrian Bernadett Graf who started in the U70kg category and was immediately successful with gold and a victory against European Champion Audrey Tcheumeo. Most likely she is still the best option U70kg.
Graf suffered a shoulder injury for a long time and had been operated. In Bucharest she came back and the results tastes for more. With youngster Michaela Polleres who booked success in Leibnitz this weekend, Austria does have an alternative in the U70kg class. A lighter judoka could book success in the U78kg class in her first year. Graf (without injuries) belongs to the top of the world U70kg and could be a surprise.
But first the return in judo and in Bucharest Graf was unseeded and defeated Melora Rosetta of Italy in her first match. Evelin Salanki (HUN) followed and veteran Yahima Ramirez was the third victim. All three are usually capable to take a medal at these kind of events, and the last two opponents took bronze afterall. In the final Graf met with Audrey Tcheumeo, world class U78kg. In an equal fight both women picked up a penalty but in the end Tcheumeo got three and the return of Graf was signed with gold.
France did win gold by Marie Eve Gahie, who is one of the most promising women U70kg. At the European Championships she won bronze but she overcame Sally Conway, another top athlete who made her return in the scene. Conway won bronze at the Olympic Games in Rio. Gahie defeated her halfway regular time by ippon. Gemma Howell (GBR) took bronze and suddenly the Britons have a luxury position in this class.
The Ukraine had a luxury position +78 where Galyna Tarasova bested Vasylyna Kyrychenko. And yes, they also have Iaromka, Kalanina and Sapsai in this class. Sapsai took bronze, which was quite a unique trio at an international podium. Only U48kg three Ukrainians won three medals at the European Open in Minsk.
In the men’s division Joachim Bottieau made his return. The Belgian Olympian didn’t show himself since Rio and immediately took gold U81kg. In the final he beat Fagan Guluzada (AZE). Tural Sagfuliyev though won gold for Azerbaijan. In the final U90kg he overcame Li Kochman.
One of the most remarkable performances was achieved by the Italian team with five finals, and all lost. It looks like a Juventus story that also lost its last five Championships League finals. Giuliano Loporchio also played a good match though, but Frenchman Clement Delvert was better with wazari in the final U100kg. He took the fourth French gold medal.
The last gold medal of the event closed the European Open for Romania. They won gold U48kg and ended with a second gold for Daniel Daniel Natea. The heavyweight beat Ushangi Kokauri of Azerbaijan in the final +100kg. Three penalties made the difference after two minutes. Daniel Allerstorfer (AUT) was also back on the podium, his first European podium since 2013 in Glasgow and four years after his bronze in Bucharest in the previous edition.
France (4), Ukraine (2) and Romania (2) were the leading nations in Bucharest this year.