Aleksandar Kukolj beat France’s Axel Clerget to the men’s under 90 kilograms gold medal at the European Judo Championships in Poland’s capital Warsaw today, securing Serbia their first-ever continental title in the sport.
The 25-year-old justified his number one seeding by forcing second-ranked Clerget to tap out via an armlock at the Torwar Arena.
Victory marks the highlight of Kukolj’s career, which has also seen him claim under 81kg silver at the European Junior Championships in 2010 and under 81kg bronze and under 90kg silver at the European Under-23 Championships in 2010 and 2013 respectively.
Russia’s Khusen Khalmurzaev beat Belarus’ Yahor Varapayeu to one of the two bronze medals, while the other was won by Georgia’s Beka Gviniashvili at the expense of Azerbaijan’s Mammadali Mehdiyev.
In the men’s under 100kg category, Azerbaijan’s Elkhan Mammadov came out on top with a win over France’s Cyrille Maret in the final.
Victory, sealed by ippon, ensured the 35-year-old his first-ever European gold medal having won 90kg silver in 2008 and bronze in 2009 and 2010.
Russia dominated the bronze medal contests with Kirill Denisov defeating The Netherlands’ Michael Korrel and Kazbek Zankishiev overcoming world number one Elmar Gasimov of Azerbaijan.
The one other men’s competition to take place today was that in the over 100kg category, which saw Guram Tushishvili beat Adam Okruashvili in an all-Georgian final.
The Netherlands’ Roy Meyer claimed bronze ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Harun Sadikovic and was joined on the third step of the podium by Czech Republic’s Lukas Krpalek, who proved too strong for Poland’s Maciej Sarnacki.
There was also women’s competition held today with France’s Audrey Tcheumeo securing her fourth European title in the under 78kg category.
The 27-year-old beat world number one Guusje Steenhuis of The Netherlands by ippon to add to her triumphs in 2011, 2014 and 2016.
Tcheumeo’s medal haul also includes a gold at the 2011 World Championships, and silver and bronze at the respective Rio 2016 and London 2012 Olympic Games.
In the bronze medal matches, Hungary’s Abigel Joo beat Slovenia’s Klara Apotekar and Great Britain’s Natalie Powell defeated The Netherlands’ Karen Stevenson.
Belarus’ Maryna Slutskaya was today’s other female gold medallist after she overcame Ukraine’s Svitlana Iaromka in the over 78kg final.
Germany’s Carolin Weiss and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Larisa Cerić rounded out the top three positions as Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Kalanina and Turkey’s Kayra Sayit just missed out on a medal.
Competition is set to conclude tomorrow with the men’s and women’s team competitions.
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