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France was by far the strongest nation at the European Open for women in Sofia. The first Continental Open of 2019 delivered France four gold medals out of four finals. Spain, Germany and Italy signed for the remaining three titles among twelve medal winning nations.
In the previous edition the Japanese women captured five gold medals, in 2017. But you don’t see Japanese teams often anymore at European Open level. On the other hand it gives space to European athletes and France is still the leading nation in Europe. The French opened the gold series with lightweight Melodie Vaugarny taking the U48kg title in the final against Tamar Malca of Israel who was the youngest medallist of the weekend (18). It was her first title and even medal at an European Open ever in her career.
Lucile Duport (28) had won a European Open in 2014 but five years later she took gold in the Bulgarian capital after she defeated Katinka Szabo of Hungary in the final U52kg. Maelle Di Cintio signed for the third French gold on Saturday. This category U63kg was stronger with European U23 champion Lubjana Piovesana as her opponent in the final. Di Cintio won her fourth European Open and her eleventh medal in this category.
Sappho Coban of Germany won gold U57kg. She bested Mariia Skora of the Ukraine in her final and won her sixth European Open medal and first title. She had lost four finals, but this time it was a golden afternoon in Sofia. There was bronze for Bulgarian Ivelina Ilieva. In total 30 athletes competed. In total 163 women, 22 more then in 2017.
On Sunday Sara Rodriguez captured gold after last weeks fifth place in Tel Aviv. Rodriguez won against German promise Marlene Galandi (18) who defeated 2016 Olympic medallist Laura Vargas Koch who’s on her way back.
Italy’s Giorgia Stangherlin took gold U78kg in the final against Emma Read, the second silver for Great Britain. Stangherlin had never won a European medal at this level. The double Italian champion won four contests in a field with three Italians among the 18 women.
Just 12 women +78kg and the winner came from France to make it four. 19-year old Lea Fontaine defeated Sara Alvarez in the final and the youngster won her first European Open medal. The level of this championships wasn’t the highest in a busy calendar and a big contrast with next week’s IJF World Tour Grand Slam in Paris, what used to be an EJU event as well until ten years ago.
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