Belgrade took the opportunity to honour its champions of this year. Aleksandar Kukolj and Nemanja Majdov were not the only ones who were awarded for their performances. Serbian judo is booming with amazing results. The men U90kg are amazingly dominant, and the women are getting better and better results. At the European Open in Belgrade it was a perfect occasion to address the recent successes and to celebrate those to come.
Italy, Israel and Romania were the gold medallists at the European Open in Belgrade in the men’s division. Excitement in the hall once Strahinja Buncic appeared for his final U66kg. The only chance for Serbia to grab gold on Saturday in Belgrade.
Italian champion Matteo Piras started well and took over Buncic halfway through regular time but didn’t get the score. The Serbian champion won silver last year and just nine seconds from the end of the bout Piras struck with a devastating take-over and directed Buncic to the same podium place as last year.
On the road the final Piras bested Famil Mammadzada, Ilija Ciganovic, Samuel Hall and David Larose. Both bronze medal contests U66kg ended in the golden score. British Samuel Hall defeated Frenchman Kevin Azema and former world number one David Larose defeated Vadim Bunescu (ROU) on penalties.
U60kg Artiom Arshanski took the first gold medal for Israel as he bested Richard Vergnes of France in the final. Two Azeri fighters battled for bronze, Elbrus Zamanov and Rufat Mammdov, won by Zamano by oseikomi. Frenchman Vincent Manquest defeated Israelian Alon Rahima for bronze in the golden score.
Marcel Cercea of Romanian became the winner of the 29 men U73kg. The Romanian champion defeated Frenchman Samuel N Zingo in the final. N Zingo had also won the African Open in January. After three minutes in the match there was no difference on the scoreboard, penalty for both. But Cercea, who was first seeded in Belgrade, struck in the last minute after he took over N Zingo for a full ippon. Cercea became the first man since 2006 (Danculea) to win a world cup in this category for his country. Coached by Adrian Croitoru he set his best performance in his career.
Azeri Telman Valiyev caught Lukas Vennekold (GER) in the second minute for wazari in their bronze contest. Valiyev didn’t give any space to the taller Vennekold to get back. Julien La Rocca scored early in the match against Martin Setz, another German on the mat, but the Frenchman let the Germans with empty hands.
Tomorrow more action with the categories U81kg, U90kg, U100kg and +100kg. After two days of fighting, Israel and Romania lead with both two gold medals. Read the story of the women in Belgrade.