He is not the only one who stepped up a weight category higher, but Loic Pietri had to wait four years before he could celebrate a victory at an Olympic qualifier. At the European Open in Odivelas, close to Lisbon, Pietri won gold U90kg. Two years ago at the European Cup he had one gold in Belgrade but never at an event where Olympic qualification points are for grab.
Pietri is slowly climbing back with a huge gap to Alex Clerget, France’ World medallist last year. Former World Champion U81kg Pietri suffered a knee injury for more than a year and seems to be back at a reasonable level, but still far from the desired level to have an Olympic outlook.
In Portugal Pietri won six contest, which is probably what he needs in this stage. Match rhythm and some hard fights need to get him further. Witnessed by his father, the athlete from Nice won his final contest against British Harry Lovell-Hewitt who booked his first European medal. In a field of 37 men Pietri came on top and saw three Frenchman in the top eight U90kg, enough competition.
In Odivelas France was the leading nation with three gold medals, three silver and four bronze. The Japanese athletes won all three finals, very efficient. Switzerland caught the gold U73kg on Saturday by Nils Stump who was in such a good shape in Tel Aviv and brought his form to Portugal this weekend. He defeated Pierre Duprat who won Grand Prixs in this category. 21-Year old Stump had won bronze at the Grand Prix in Tbilisi last year but had never won all his contests on the same day in this category. The last senior event he won was the Belgian Open in 2016.
Saturday’s finals started with a victory for Japanese lightweight Katsuma Yonemura, the runner-up of the Japanese Championships, so definitely gifted. He bested Sylvain Goulain of France in the final. Frenchman Kilian Le Blouch is not only a good coach at this 29th, but still an excellent judoka. He won the category U66kg against Gevorg Khachatrian of the Ukraine and won all four contests.
On Sunday Japan started like Saturday with gold U81kg for Hikaru Tomokiyo against Frenchman Nicolas Chilard. Tomokiyo is a former Japanese Junior Champion (2017). Heavyweight Kazuya Sato claimed the third gold for Japan in the final +100kg against Anton Brachev of Russia.
After Pietri’s final U90kg it was up to Cedric Olivar to win the third gold for France. Merab Margiev of Russia couldn’t convert his previous three wins into gold in the final and Olivar booked his second European Open victory. In 2017 he won the European Open in Belgrade.
The next European Open for men is in Rome at 16 February.