At the first day of the European Cup for senior in Tampere Finland had a good showcase of their athletes. Russia took the lead in the medal after one day with three gold medals, however today was one of the most remarkable days in the history of Finnish judo with a rain of medals for the host nation.
In a field of 103 athletes Finland had a great share with 38 judoka, 30 men and 8 women. Without Emilia Kanerva the category U57kg still had Anni Ikala in the final. But in French Cindy Huber she had an experienced fighter as opponent. Huber was aobut to defend last year’s title. But 24-Year Ikala wanted her first medal in Tampere badly, previously she finished three times in the top 8 but without a medal. Today she finished with gold and gave the home nation gold in this competitive category in just 34 seconds. She was in great shape and finished all her matches within a minute. It’s the first women’s victory for Finland in any European since 2008 by Elina Paulman and Johanna Ylinen.
Finnish 18-year old talent Aku Laakkonen seemed to be inspired by the victory of Ikala and added another gold for the host nation. Laakkonen won the category U73kg against Swedish Frederik Gourlay. Eetu Laamanen had already won bronze in this division as well as Aslan Chimaev of Russia. For Laakkonen it was his first European Cup victory and even medal. The four time Cadet Champion was able to defeat the 22-year old Swedish Champion by ippon, his fourth victory.
The first gold medal of the day was for Spain. In a small pool of just five athletes Daine Cordero Gimenez won her four matches. Last year’s European Cadet Champion Michela Fiorini ended as second in the pool. Cordero previously won the European Cup in Malaga but this was her first senior victory abroad for the 21-year old Spaniard.
Russian Ilgiz Ishakov won the gold for men U60kg in Tampere. In the final he defeated Italian hope Manuel Lombardo. It was the first senior victory for Ishakov. Lombardo is this year’s Cadet European Champion who’s just 16 years.
Madelene Rubinstein of Norway won the category U52kg. The 20-year young Norwegian claimed her first European Senior Cup. In the final she defeated Italian Fabiola Pidroni, the third Italian who ended with silver, but for those youngsters it’s just a good experience abroad at senior level, although Pidroni is 21 and already won the British Open this year and ended with silver at the Italian Senior Championships.
Maxim Kuznetsov of Russian won the second gold for his country in the category U66kg. He is one of the most experienced in today’s field and had already collected four European Cup wins starting in 2009 in Boras and last year he won bronze in Tampere. Today he defeated his compatriot Petr Zhukov in the final. Kuznetsov won his last match just for the end with 20 seconds to go by ippon after leading by yuko. He defeated Vadoud Balatkhanov of Finland in the semi final who won the bronze for his nation after defeating Henri Tuurala.
The gold in the category for women U63kg was for Russia. Nadezhda Romashkova defeated Laura Jauhiainen in the final. With eight medals this year’s edition is already more successful than last year and the two gold medals shine like a diamond with one more day to go. Last year seven medals were achieved including one gold at day 1.