Dutch team breaks the barriers at day 3 in The Hague
So far the Dutch Judo team, they hadn’t had the best luck performing in the Junior European Judo Championships in The Hague, but on Saturday’s third and final day, was something different. Out of the five weight categories, all but one had Dutch representatives in the semi final, three of which have gone in to the final.
In the -90kg category, with the crowd and team mates alike exploding in the stands, Lars Van Oostrum (NED) was explosive from his first contest. The world ranked #33 athlete came in unseeded and with no pressure, having only two continental cup bronze medals to his name, but as it turns out the energy from his team gave him the will to win. In his semi final contest against Rares Arsenie (ROU), he dominated, putting the first score on the board and finishing off with 30 seconds left on the clock in ne waza. The home crowd went crazy.
Vugar Talibov (AZE) had made his way through his quarter of the -90kg category without too much trouble, but 2022 European Youth Olympic Festival champion, Miljan Radulj (SRB) was a strong match in the semi final. Though Talibov was struggling to find a way in to score, Radulj was hitting a brick wall with each attempt, displaying one of the more physical contests of the day. A change of pace or strategy was required but the pair remained calm as they rolled in to golden score, sticking to their original game plans and both looking for a seoi nage opening. There was greater pressure on Radulj as he held on to two shidos, and after three extra minutes took the third.
After defeating Yuliia Kurchenko (UKR) in the quarter final, Lieke Derks (NED) took herself in to the semi final against Ilana Bouvier (FRA). A collected Derks took her time and managed to concentrate despite the tremendous amount of noise coming from the stands and she simply took an opportunity as he opponent dropped, noticing the arm was free, transitioning swiftly to apply juju gatame in the first half of the contest and earning her place in the final for the junior title, improving on her bronze medal result last year.
Taking on the home favourite and grand slam medallist, Derks, in the final will be Morgane Rubiano (FRA). After a gruelling contest against Eva Ronja Buddenkotte (GER) leading in to golden score, the French athlete timed a perfect seoi nage to have a chance for gold.
Mathias Anglionin (FRA) started a little slowly in his semi final against Bogdan Petre (ROU), however realising he needed to step up a gear, he finally found his groove and threw with harai maki komi for a waza ari score, then in the next exchange countered a weak kata guruma attempt from Petre and transitioned in to osae komi for the first place in the -100kg final.
Once again we saw a Dutch athlete, Joës Schell, look for a place in the final, this time in the -100kg category against Jean Carletti (ITA). A ko soto gari was countered with o uchi gari by Schell, turning in to his opponent and following the momentum for waza ari, however Carletti wasn’t ready to give up his place in the final, wanting to continue the success of the Italian team with fifth gold medal in this tournament.
Rugile Stasiulyte (LTU) and Gabrielle Bouvier (BEL) were the first pair to go head to head for a place in the final of the -78kg category. Both with very similar styles and approach, it headed in to golden score, and eventually after two and a half minutes, a third shido was issued to the Lithuanian athlete giving Bouvier the win.
Following them were Dutch hopeful Paulien Sweers and Yuli Alma Mishiner (ISR). Though Sweers accumulated two shidos, she remained positive in her attacks and scored waza ari with uchi mata, however there was still plenty of time left in the contest so she needed to play it smart. She did just that, she continued to look for the positive result and score again but couldn’t quite seal the deal, nevertheless, the win was Sweers’.
Another defending junior European champion, Shalva Gureshidze (GEO) stepped on the tatami in his semi final against Recep Ergin (TUR), the latter picking up two shidos early in the contest. Ergin did well to last in to golden score with these penalties hanging over him but after one extra minute, Gureshidze saw a chance for a huge ura nage and executed to take his place in his second consecutive junior European final.
Joining the Georgian athlete in the final is Giannis Antoniou of Cyprus. This semi final went in the opposite way, lasting only 20 seconds as a morote seoi nage from Antoniou scored ippon and sealed the win. For Cyprus it was the best ever performance at European Junior Championships after one bronze medal in 2020.
The record for the Dutch team was 4 Junior European titles in one tournament 1996 and 2015, the three medals on Saturday is not unique but quite a performance. In 1996 the team achieved to win four titles in one day. In 1990 the Dutch also captured three titles in one day.