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With three recently crowned Junior World Champions in addition to a successful showing for the Cadets at the European Cup in Koper, Slovenia last weekend, Italian judo is on fire. Their total over the past few weekends includes four gold medals and even eight final positions – not a bad tally. No one prolonged the wait to repeat last year’s title of the first edition of this European Cup. Of the 27 participating nations at the event, 10 of them were represented by champion athletes – a good example of the diversity of quality judo.
Italy opened the two-day event on Saturday with a pair of gold medals in the U50kg and U44kg divisions, with Thomas Scatolino winning one and Giulia Ghiglione winning an all-Italian final against 14-year old Asia Avanzato, the youngest finalist of the weekend in Koper. Both finals were youngsters of 14 years. Portuguese Raquel Brito showed how much she has learned a lot from Maestro Pedro Dias and took the U48kg gold., and Nusa Perovnik won gold for the home nation in U52kg. Danilo Korchemkin of Russia took a gold medal in U55kg against Italian Vincenzo Skenderi. Dutchman Victor van Gerven claimed the gold medal after he bested Blaz Emersic of Slovenia. Italy took home a second gold medal for U66kg men when Federico Cuniberto bested Croatian Leon Dapic in a crowded pool of 40 young men.
Slovenia began the day Sunday by claiming a second gold medal as Jus Mecilosek defeated Luigi Centracchio of Italy, perhaps to remind the Italians to be realistic about their success. Bohdan Pushenko of the Ukraine won a gold medal in a competitive U81kg category that saw a variety of nations in the top 8. Hungarian Ivan Boros secured one male gold for his country on Sunday by defeating Axel Heeren of the Netherlands. Igor Vracar won gold for Bosnia in the final against Donat Varga of Hungary.
There were four female categories to go for the girls with a second, or actually first gold medal for Hungary by Brigitta Varga U57kg which saw two Hungarians on the podium. Katarina Kristo booked the gold medal for Croatia, and in U70kg Della Moira Vetterli of Switzerland emerged victorious. The last gold medal of the day was the first of the day awarded to Italy. Erica Simonetti won her category in +70kg and was the youngest winner of the weekend at just 15 years of age, claiming her third victory of the season and fifth medal at a European Cup. Italy proved to be a powerhouse, whereas last year Azerbaijan won four gold medals. With one Cadet European Cup to go, the season is almost over, with Gyor being the final stop for the young talents of Europe.
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