The Netherlands was the winning nation at the second day of the European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku. The Dutch girls captured two gold medals and there were two more bronze medals to celebrate. Last year’s European bronze medallist Elin Henninger this time captured the gold medal in the women’s U52kg category.
The 16-year old Dutch champion defeated Ariane Toro Soler of Spain in the final. The Spanish had beaten the Italian favourite Veronica Toniolo in the semis whilst Henninger defeated Alexandra Pasca (ROM) in the semi-final. The final was decided in extra time. Toiolo and Pasca both took bronze.
A second gold medal was achieved by Dutch Joanne van Lieshout U63kg. Van Lieshout defeated Croatia’s Katarina Kristo in the final in 41 seconds. All four contests were decided by ippon despite the heavy opposition. In the semi final Van Lieshout overcame Belgium’s medal hope Alessia Corrao who recently won the Cadet European title in Warsaw. Four weeks ago it was actually Kristo defeating Van Lieshout in the quarter final. Van Lieshout’s mother was a multiple Dutch national medallist. Yuliia Kurchenko (UKR) and Laura Vasquez (ESP) captured the bronze medal U63kg.
The two titles made it 16 in total in the Dutch history of the EYOF but it was six years ago since the Dutch won gold. At home in Utrecht they took three gold medals in 2013 and on the last day there are new chances in Baku to equalize the best result ever. Esther Stam (2003) is perhaps the most familiar of the winners. Amber Gersjes won gold in 2013 and was Junior World Champion in 2017, but an EYOF title is not a guarantee but a good motivation. The two gold medals were the first gold for the whole Dutch team of all sports in Baku.
Alexe Wagemaker took bronze for the Dutch team in women’s U57kg, but the division was won by Turkish Ozlem Yildiz who defeated Kseniia Galitskaia of Russia in the final. It was the third gold medal for Turkey which is an all time record in judo for Turkey that won two gold medals in 2017 as well. German Samira Bock took bronze. Yildiz was able to win the European Cadet title as well as the EYOF in this amazing year. The Cadet World Championships will be held in Almaty in September. Turan Bayramov of Azerbaijan is the second judoka to win the double.
Russian Saikhan Shabikhanov took the gold medal for boys U66kg. Shabikhanov took silver last month at the Europeans, but the EYOF are totally different in results, which is typical for this age category where anything can happen. Shabikhanov defeated Serhii Nebotov of the Ukraine in the final and Daniel Szegedi (HUN) and Michail Tsoutlashvili (GRE) took the bronze.
The men’s U73kg was for Italy’s Luigi Centracchio who missed out the gold at the Europeans one month ago. Now he won the final against Azeri Vugar Talibov. 26 men fought for the gold in Baku and again Centracchio was able to qualify for the final. Coming from a true judo family Centracchio had learned from his loss although it was an other opponent. He delivered the 12th ever gold medal for Italy in more than 30 years. Among the winners Olympic medallists like Ylenia Scapin and Odette Giuffrida as well as current Junior World Champion Alice Bellandi who won the EYOF title in 2015 in Tbilisi when the Italians set an all time record of five gold medals. Serbia’s Aleksandar Rajicic took his second bronze medal this year and Jelle van Teijlingen of the Netherlands added the fourth medal of the day for his country.