Day 2 of the WJF European Championships followed suit of the first day, with team JFAUK coming away with a plethora of medals.
Up first was 2016 WJF European Champion Sam Sampson who was looking to claim his second WJF European Gold in the new weight class of -83kg. Up first was a Greek opponent. Sam took his time to get going and worked through tough grips to finally execute a flying juji gatame and score ippon. Up next was yet another Greek opponent who Sam threw with a big Kata Guruma to take him into the final. In a repeat final of 2016, Sam found himself against a Bulgarian Judoka who had also moved up into -83kg. After a dynamic exchange between the two rivals, Sam was unfortunately caught by a Kata Guruma himself this time and had to settle for the silver medal.
Up next was Oli Relton in the men’s -79kg category. Starting his competition day Oli countered his first opponent with a Tani Otoshi to score a wazari before transitioning into a Kata Gatame, holding his opponent down for 25 seconds to score his second wazari and claim the win. Next, Oli continued his transitional judo by pulling off a huge Ippon Seoi Nage, quickly transitioning into a Juji Gatame to submit his opponent. For the Semi-final Oli decided to mix things up, this time utilising a Hane Goshi to score ippon and proceed to the final. In the final, Oli was face to face with a Greek Judoka who had also been on fine form throughout the day, however, unfazed by his opponents track record, Oli went back to his Ne-Waza to score ippon with a powerful Juji Gatame and claim the gold medal.
Up next was 2015 WJF European Champion Ross Elliot who was looking to re-claim his European title in the -99kg category. Up first for Ross was a Greek Judoka. In the early exchanges of the fight Ross scored a wazari using a Hiza Guruma, quickly transitioning into a Mune Gatame to hold his opponent down and claim the win. Next for Ross was yet another home Judoka. Ross followed the same pattern, using a Maki Komi to score wazari, transitioning into a Kesa Gatame and holding his opponent down to claim his second win. In the final, Ross found himself against a Turkish Judoka. In the early exchange, the Turkish fighter stumbled Ross with a Maki Komi attempt however Ross’ reactions were firing fast as he quickly utilised his Ne-Waza to first attempt an Eri Jime before transitioning into a Mune Gatame, eventually holding his opponent down to claim the gold.
Next to represent JFAUK was 2015 WJF Junior European Bronze Medalist Alexis Bardini in the men’s -75kg category. For his first fight Alexis used a quick Uchi Mata to Ouchi Gari combination to score ippon and get his day off to a good start. Next, Alexis found himself against a much taller opponent, forcing him to think carefully on how to claim his second win. Alexis utilised a similar strategy, using an Uchi Mata before changing direction and dropping into a Ko Uchi Gake to score the ippon. For his semi final match, Alexis found himself against an experienced Dan grade however was unfazed and managed to score an ippon with a Osoto Gake in the early seconds of the fight to progress to the final. In the final Alexis was certainly pushed to his limits in an extremely hard fought fight. After a extremely dynamic battle, Alexis eventually sunk in an Eri Jime to secure his WJF European gold medal.
Hannah Chesham also stepped on the tatami for the second time to take part in the womens open weight category. After battling through the category, Hannah came up a Bulgarian judoka. After an exchange between the two and a very close Juji Gatame attempt from Hannah, it was the Bulgarian who managed to find the space to score a Wazari and in the end hold Hannah down, leaving our JFAUK judoka with a silver medal.
Sam Charalambous was also set to compete in the men’s -75kg category but unfortunately had to withdraw before the competition due to an injured shoulder. However, Sam had a pivotal role in helping to warm up his team mates, get them ready and ensure they always had water and tape to hand.
An additional category, which was created in the spirit of judo, was also held in which Karl Summerbell who had just claimed gold in the Para athlete category was able to fight against able bodied Judoka. Once again defying all odds, Karl succeeded in achieving a silver medal to add to his collection.
Further to this category, a mixed nation team event was also initiated. This event was inspired by our Greek host’s visits to Japan, whereby at international events, mixed team competitions are often created out of Judoka from different countries to encourage integration between the Judoka from different nations. 4 teams were created and in team 1 were JFAUK Judoka Sam Sampson and Ross Elliot and in team 2 was Alexis Bardini and Oli Relton. In the end, it was team 1 who managed to top the podium, giving Sam Sampson and Ross Elliot a gold medal and trophy, and team 2 coming close in second place giving Alexis Bardini and Oli Relton a silver medal.
Overall a remarkably successful trip for JFAUK who’s strength at this tournament has certainly been growing each time we attend. We would like to thank our Judoka who have worked tirelessly throughout the year to represent us at this tournament and it is clear that their hard work has paid off. Once again we would like to thank Samuel Betu who travelled with the team to work as part of the referee committee alongside the Greek and Italian referees. Another thank you goes to JFAUK President Sampson Sampson who helped to lead the team to the event and their corresponding victories. Further to running an international training session alongside Alfredo Vismara (9th Dan) on Friday evening, Sampson spent the duration of the event assisting with refereeing as well as attending meetings with the WJF Committee to discuss the future and further progress of the WJF in the coming years. With many plans in mind, we are certainly excited to be part of this journey.
With a growing number of entries and a number of new countries entering this years championships, the WJF European Championships is certainly an event that will continue to grow and expand in the years to come.
The WJF European Championships are now over, and we look to 2020 for the next.