On the first day of competition, we saw an amazing performance from Croatian heavyweight Helena Vukovic, who claimed the gold medal in the +78 kg category. Vukovic seems to be on great form and could be happy about having won her second gold medal in a row, after her victory in Sarajevo a couple of weeks ago. The Croatian was very dominant throughout the whole day and won all of her fights in convincing style - With IPPON.
Also Vukovic’ team mate Andela Violic had a great day ending up with a silver medal in the -70 kg category. A great result from the tall Croatian, who could upgrade her latest result - A 5th place in Sarajevo - to a spot in the final.
Also, home nation, Czech Republic, had something to cheer for, as Renata Zachova took a bronze medal in the -63 kg category. Zachova wasted no time and made her way to the semifinal in convincing style. Unfortunately, a small slip cost her the victory and put her down into the repechage but Zachova came back strongly and managed to clinch the bronze medal to the delight of the home crowd.
On the second day of action, home nation Czech Republic could celebrate Vera Zemanova, who claimed the gold medal in the category under 57 kg. Zemanova was looking very strong throughout the day and wasted no time, winning all of her matches by IPPON. What a performance from the Czech, who was able to defend her title from 2018.
Zemanova could share the podium with another IPPON GEAR athlete; Seija Ballhaus of Germany. Also, Ballhaus had a good performance on the day and managed to get all the way to the semifinal. Here, she unfortunately fell short but came back strongly in the repechage. In the end of the day, the German could celebrate a good bronze medal after a thriller of a bronze medal match decided in the favour of Ballhaus after 2,5 minutes of Golden Score.
In the men’s +100 kg category, Marcel Skalec was the third Croatian to qualify for the final. Skalec was on good form throughout the tournament and went from match to match with only IPPON wins. In the end of the day, the Croatian had to settle for a second place but could be happy about having picked up his first medal this season.
In the -100 kg category furthermore two IPPON GEAR athletes ended their day on the podium;
The first bronze medal went to Zsombor Veg of Hungary. Veg was sent to the repechage in an early stage of the competition but came back strongly and in the end of the day, the Hungarian could celebrate his first ever medal at a Junior European cup. Despite only being a first year Junior, the young Hungarian already won a medal at a Senior European cup and is showing great potential for the future.
Second of the bronze medals went to Mathias Madsen of Denmark. Coming into the tournament as the number one seed, Madsen powered through all competition up until the semifinal, where he unfortunately was stopped by the later gold medalist. In the match for bronze, he faced another IPPON GEAR athlete; Peter Arvai of Hungary, who he overcame with IPPON. Madsen is one of the most consistent players in this division and this weekend, he could celebrate his medal number 10 in a Junior European cup.
Hungarian Mate Iklodi also came close to a podium finish in the category under 90 kg. Iklodi showed good judo throughout the day and won all of his matches by IPPON, but in the end of day, he had to settle for a 5th place. Nevertheless, a good performance from the Hungarian, who we believe to see on the podium soon!
Furthermore, three athletes managed to finish in the top 7:
Daniel Leutgeb of Austria (-60 kg)
Valentin Wagenbichler of Austria (-60 kg)
Lara Cvjetko of Croatia (-63 kg)
Congratulations to all our athletes for another successful competition this weekend. We are getting closer and closer to the highlights of the year; the European Championships in Vaanta and the World Championships in Marrakech and we are happy to see the progress our athletes have gone through - We can’t wait for the upcoming competitions!