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Sagi Muki takes unique European title for Israel

26 Jun 2015 19:10

   Emir Incegul / Turkish Judo Federation
20150626_Baku_Sagi Muki (3)

The European Games gold medal for men U73kg was for Israel. Sagi Muki celebrated the first European Champion outside Ariel Zeevi who captured four titles. Muki defeated Georgian Nugzar Tatalashvili in the final.

In a tight final where both fighters received penalties it was Muki who had one penalty less as Tatalashvili who is one of the revelations of the season. Muki, who is the number 7 of the world ranking list was the former number two even in May, had all problems with the Georgian but the Israelian showed to be great today. Coached by Oren Smadja who works close with Muki saw the time giving him the advantage. Thirty seconds for the end it was Muki who took the title and took over a technique by the Georgian and threw him for ippon.

Last year Muki won the Grand Slam of Baku and had a good feeling in the capital of Azerbaijan. This year he hadn’t won but took two bronze medals in Dusseldorf and Zagreb.

The first match for gold was very a lively bout between Rok Draksic of Slovenia and Denis Iartcev, the man who won the World Masters in Rabat. But the offensive style brought Iartcev in problems and it was Draksic who took a waza-ari. But Iartcev seemed to take the match with a huge throw, initially awarded by ippon but reversed to yuko. With that backdraft another 2 minutes to go and Draksic secured a bronze medal with a hold down in the last minute. Draksic was European Champion in 2013 and now took his fifth European medal since 2010.

The second bronze was for Belgian Dirk van Tichelt who defeated Dutchman Dex Elmont. Both former numbers one of the world and in head2heads equal (2-2) in advance. But it was Van Tichelt who won this battle for bronze. After two minutes in the match Van Tichelt took Elmont down for waza-ari while he was behind with three penalties against two for Elmont. Elmont had a bad attack and Van Tichelt turned him for a point.

Last year’s European Champion had lost against Sagi Muki (ISR) in the quarter final, but came back with a victory against Budapest GP winner Miki Ungvari but came short against Dirk van Tichelt. A fifth place for Elmont for whom only one thing counts this year, the world title which he lost twice in a final and failed last year completely in Chelyabinsk. Then the stunt in Rio should follow when he will be 32. For Van Tichelt it meant his second European medal. He won the title in 2008, but only collected two sour fifth places. Today he added another medal to the gold of Belgium yesterday by Van Snick. It gives him the confidence for a good preparation for the World Championships with a welcome bronze medal in the pocket. Also a success for Belgian coach Robert Krawczyk.

Winner Sagi Muki reacted with joy after he had received his gold medal: 

"The final was tough, he is a very good fighter and I'm very happy that I could win and show my judo in the best possible way today. We had done a very good job together with the coach to prepare for this"

On winning his first big international medal:

"I have a lot of emotions inside of me right now and I am very happy. This is very important for me in my Olympics preparation and for my ranking. Today I felt very good, very sharp, very strong. I concentrated on winning this competition and I did it."

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  • Sagi Muki (ISR) - European Games Baku (2015, AZE) - © Emir Incegul, Turkish Judo Federation
  • Sagi Muki (ISR) - European Games Baku (2015, AZE) - © Emir Incegul, Turkish Judo Federation
  • Dirk Van Tichelt (BEL), Nugzari Tatalashvili (GEO), Sagi Muki (ISR), Rok Draksic (SLO) - European Games Baku (2015, AZE) - © Emir Incegul, Turkish Judo Federation

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