IJF Gabriela Sabau / International Judo Federation
The Netherlands and Romania were the two most dominant nations at the European Open in Czech Republic. Under remarkable conditions the European Open was held in the city where last year a successful European Championships were organised. Both the Dutch and Romanian team were able to capture three titles. Belgian won gold U52kg by Amber Ryheul.
The Belgian defeated Naomi van Krevel of the Netherlands who competed at the main tournaments since the reopening of the Judo season in November including the senior Europeans. It was the first World Cup victory ever for Belgian Ryheul after two bronze medals. She won the European U23 title U52kg i 2019.
The event in Prague was sort of a combination of European Open level and European Cups with lots of youngsters and talent that would normally participate at European Cup level events. Besides the qualification points which will help the seeding at a next event it was also a useful grade to see if the step up to European Open level was too much or in balance.
Two Dutch women captured gold, U57kg it was Junior World Championships bronze medallist Pleuni Cornelisse who took the victory against Vera Zemanova from Czech Republic. No home crowd was allowed to see the performances of the two finallists. Geke van den Berg took the victory U63kg. In the final she was too strong for Slovenian Lia Ludvig.
In the lightweight category the experienced Monica Ungureanu won the gold medal U48kg. The tall Romanian defeated Austrian Katharina Tanzer in the final.
In the lightweight category for men U60kg it was again Holland that claimed gold as Emiel Jaring surprised the field reaching the final against Swiss Samuel Waizenegger. The Dutchman won his final and the first gold medal for his country. Romania was strong in the divisions U66 and U73kg. U66kg it was Lucian Bors Dumitrescu who won in Prague against Moldovan Vadim Bunescu.
Adrian Sulca (ROU) took gold against Jakub Jecminek (CZE). In fact Czech Republic was the nation with two lost finals and somewhat unlucky. Poland had four chances on a bronze medal, but only one was achieved.
The Dutch lead the medal table after the first day with three gold medals, silver and five bronze medals. Not a huge surprise as they brought in a team of 40 athletes, by far the biggest team among 270 participants in Prague. Romania was with 17 athletes super efficient with three titles.