As always, the Ippon Gear team did not disappoint. Actually, they did an amazing job and showed what they are capable of just one year out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Matthias Casse of Belgium in -81 kg stole the show on day 2, as he took out player after player in his category, all the way until the final showing the talent he has combined with the hard work he always puts into his training. The highlight came in the final as he swung his Bulgarian opponent in a huge standing Ippon Seoi Nage in the last 30 seconds and made it the deciding score to give him the top spot on the podium and the title as European Games and European Champion.
First day of competition, we saw Casse’s team mate, 22-year-old Jorre Verstraeten making his way through the rounds as well. He was nothing less than amazing as he bested many strong players. All the hard work paid off and got the passionate judoka on the podium winning his first Senior European Championships medal at such a young age.
Austrian heavyweight, Stephan Hegyi also made it to the podium. He finished his day with a bronze medal, the second in a row at this event proving that he belongs amongst the top of Europe.
Also, Lukas Krpalek was impressive on day three of competition. In the end, the Olympic Champion had to settle for a fifth place, which is not what he came here for. But nevertheless, every fight is a lesson and the main goal remains the same: defending his Olympic Title next year in Tokyo.
Barbara Matic only had one competition since she came back from her knee injury. Impressively, she made her way through the competition. She won all of her four winning matches on Ippon and ended her day with an amazing bronze medal.
Attila Ungvari surprised the World as he picked up a bronze medal. On the way to the podium he took out top players including the number one seed of the Netherlands as well as the former World Champion of Germany. Attila was overwhelmed throwing his opponent in the bronze medal match for waza-ari and clinching the bronze medal.
On day one of competition, Czech Pavel Petrikov finished with a devastating fifth place as he lost out on the bronze medal. The experienced Czech lightweight had to fight through some hard opponents to get to the bronze medal but didn’t manage to grab the bronze medal. However, fifth in Europe is something to be proud of.
Another fifth place went to 63 kg fighter Martyna Trajdos. The German is always amongst the medals and proves time after time that she is one of the best in the World but this time it was not enough for a medal. But Martyna went for the Ippon in all of her matches and we know, she will be back on the podium soon!
Zlatko Kumric impressed in the -100 kg category as he reached the final block and had to fight for the bronze medal. The Croatian powerhouse was not able to overcome his opponent in this matchup and left Minsk empty handed but with a great fifth place.
After the individual competition, we came to the mixed team competition. Team Austria started their day by defeating Germany. After losing to home nation Belarus, a win over Serbia in the repechage secured Austria a spot in the bronze medal match. The last fight -73kg brought the win over as strong Dutch team and the celebration of the first mixed team medal started.
Overall, it was a very good performance for the Ippon Gear team with many medals and strong performances. A good test event before the World Championships in Tokyo later this year and before the even bigger goal of The Olympic Games next year.
MORE IMPRESSIONS OF THE EUROPEAN GAMES 2019