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Russia defeats Portugal in nail-biting mixed team final
26 Jun 2019 07:20
Russia needed to pull out all stops to win gold against an unfancied Portugal as the judo competition of the Minsk 2019 European Games concluded with the mixed team event. While Russia was the favourite and advanced easily to the final with wins over Turkey, Serbia and Belarus, Portugal came out of nowhere to send France to the repechage and beat the Netherlands in the semi-final.
Portugal then shocked the Russians by taking a 3-0 lead in the first three contests. It came down to +100kg fighter Inal Tasoev (RUS) to keep the team's hopes alive when he defeated Jorge Fonseca (POR) in the fourth contest.
Russia had to win the next two matches to get a chance for a tiebreaking golden-score match. European Games champion Daria Mezhetskaia (RUS) came out and needed only a few seconds to throw Telma Monteiro (POR) for ippon.
"Inal Tasoev turned it around when we were losing 3-0 and set the pace for us," Mezhetskaia said.
In the last match, Musa Mogushkov faced Jorge Fernandes. The Portuguese succumbed only in the golden score. With the contest tied at 3-3, the final went into the tiebreaker.
A draw determines the category and it was Mogushkov and Fernandes who had to compete again. Both were visibly tired, and it took Mogushkov four minutes to defeat Fernandes and secure the gold for Russia in what was a close contest.
"I did not know how I could continue because I was a bit tired. Then they told me (his category had been drawn) and everyone looked at me. Whether I wanted it or not, I had to go and I went out on autopilot," Mogushkov said.
"This is now an Olympic discipline and this medal counts. I am very happy that I was able to help the Russian team win a gold medal and that I became the hero of this medal."
France recovered to take bronze over Belarus. In the second bronze medal match Austria defeated the Netherlands.
Surprisingly, Ukraine lost to Slovenia in the first round, while Georgia was not able to participate as they did not have the minimum of three women qualified for the individual events.
Daria Mezhetskaia won two gold medals this event.
Mezhetskaia: "I worked very hard for results like that and I'll work even harder for more and better results."
How was the team final against Portugal?
Mezhetskaia: "We are prepared for anyone. There is no opponent that is easy. I never say that it will be easy. No, I'm taking each opponent very seriously."
Beating Telma Minteiro within a few seconds by ippon is a statement. Mezhetskaia: "I don't know how I did that. I just did it."
Musa Mogushkov contributed big to the victory against Portugal:
Mogushkov: "Honestly, before I even came to the European championship, I was hoping for a similar scenario. I imagined this responsibility and how hard it would be. When it happened today I was able to deal with it and it is very nice that I was able to bring success to my country."
You had to fight another contest when it was equal.
Mogushkov: "When I equalled to 3-3, I suddenly thought, 'what if [I have to]?' I never was in a situation like this before. I did not know how I could continue because I was a bit tired. Then they told me [his category had been drawn] and everyone looked at me. Whether I wanted it or not, I had to go and I went out on autopilot."
"I was probably four times a silver medallist in the team event at the European championships. We were in absolutely the same situation before, we were leading 3-0 or 2-0 and then we lost. Now it was the opposite. We were losing 0-3 and were able to turn it around and win. Apparently it worked better for us that way."
What are the chances for this Russian team?
Mogushkov: "This is a team medal for the country. This is now an Olympic discipline and this medal counts. I am very happy that I was able to help the Russian team win a gold medal and that I became the hero of this medal."
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