World Champion Clarisse Agbegnenou added another title to her impressive list of honour. The Paris winner and quadruple European champion won all her four fights by ippon. Her victory wasn’t a surprise for anyone, the rest of the podium was more the question.
Alice Schlesinger was the surprise of the day. The British middleweight survived a pool with 2015 Games winner Martyna Trajdos and she was able to defeat Italian promise Maria Centracchio in the semi-final. Centracchio was another surprise, despite her good season. She defeated Juul Franssen of the Netherlands in the second round and Agata Ozdoba in the quarter. In the fight for bronze she overcame another Polish judoka, Karolina Talach. Dutch ace Sanne Vermeer was expected to reach the semi final and was awarded with a bronze medal after her loss against Agbegnenou and successful bronze medal bout against Martyna Trajdos. The podium was a mix of young and old.
The World and European Champion said: "I am very excited. I was lacking this European Games gold medal. Last time I had bronze, in Baku 2015, so I really wanted the gold this time and I am very proud. I hope this sets me up well for the World Championships in Tokyo in August.
How did you cope with the expectations?
Agbegnenou: "I felt good in the morning, but I still took my matches one by one. I knew that my opponents are strong, that they would give 100 per cent. I am very pleased with my performance in each match. I was focused and didn't make mistakes.
What was your best fight?
Agbegnenou: "The final was the best match of the day for me. I did not make any errors, my hands were well placed, my technique was perfect and I scored for each action. It could not have been much better than that."
Silver medallist Schlesinger: "I'm in pain at the moment, but I feel really good to have got to the final of the European Games. It was a long day, but successful. Agbegnenou is extremely strong, plus a really tough opponent, but I'll just have to go home and work harder and get ready for the next one."
Bronze medallist Sanne Vermeer was nervous but was happy with her fights. “"I guess that everyone tried to prepare their best for the European Games, especially because it was the European championships as well. I had lots of difficulties with Martyna Trajdos, so maybe it made me more nervous, but now I'm very happy."
Maria Centracchio: "I'm really happy because my family and all my friends are here, so to get a medal in front of them is extremely emotional."