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Mikhail Igolnikov strikes with first European senior title
28 Apr 2018 19:05
Mikhail Igolnikov earned Russia’s fourth gold of the European Judo Championships in Tel Aviv today, leaving them top of the final medals table, as he defeated Serbia’s world champion Nemanja Majdov in the U90 kilograms class.
Russia, who also won one silver and three bronzes, were followed by France and Belgium.
The surprise in the final had been prefaced by another early shock as world number one Aleksandar Kukolj of Serbia was beaten by Yahor Varapayeu of Belarus, who finished fifth.
Bronze medals went to Spain's Nikoloz Sherazadishvili and surprise Theodoros Tselidis, a former Russian fighter now coming out for Greece.
Igolnikov denied he had any pressure facing a world champion in the final in the Tel Aviv Convention Centre.
"No not at all, because he is an ordinary human, and yes, he could be world title holder," he said. "In principle, he is not an easy opponent and not everyone can be world champion. You should never underestimate your opponent, but also should not put them on a pedestal.”
France won two final gold medals in the top two women’s weights.
A Gallic victory was guaranteed in the U78kg class as two French judoka met - Olympic bronze medallist Audrey Tcheumeo and Madeleine Malonga.
Although Tcheumeo struck first with a waza-ari, Malonga’s discipline and technical skills earned her her first European title.
Bronze medals went to Britain's Natalie Powell and Anna Maria Wagner of Germany.
The top women’s weight, +78kg, also went to France as 18-year-old Romane Dicko, having earlier defeated the defending champion, Marina Slutskaya of Belarus, went on to earn the gold medal by beating triple European medallist Larisa Ceric of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bronze medallists in this class were Yelisaveta Kalanina of Russia and The Netherlands' Tessie Savelkouls.
In the men’s U100kg category, Belgium’s Toma Nikiforov defeated France’s Olympic bronze medallist Cyrille Maret, thus claiming gold to go with the European silver and bronze already in his possession.
Zelim Kotsoiev of Azerbaijan and Peter Paltchik of Israel claimed bronze, another medal for the home nation.
In the men’s topweight, +100kg, the gold medal went to the Czech Republic’s Lukáš Krpálek - already European, world and Olympic champion at U100kg.
"It is a big difference," he said after defeating Russia's Tamerlan Bashaev in the final. "At the U100kg people were more technical and powerful. In this weight class, everyone is really strong, so I need to spend time in the gym every day to get stronger and stronger.
"I definitely want to be world champion in the +100kg and I am going to start the qualification and the hard work towards Tokyo 2020."
Bronze medallists in the men's top weight were Henk Grol of the Netherlands and Austria's Stephan Hegyi.
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Jeremie Simoneau (CAN)
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