GB Judo Review: Arad Junior European Cup

GB Judo came away with four medals from the Arad Junior European Cup on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 August with Lubjana Piovesana’s gold medal the highlight of the weekend.

This was the -63kg judoka’s eighth Junior European Cup gold medal, the most by any GB judoka to date, and was her first Junior European medal since her gold in Gdynia last year.

Piovesana had to come through a tough opening contest against Andjela Samardzic (BIH), winning in golden score, before getting into her stride with a strong win against Anastasiya Antipina (UKR) in the quarter-finals.

Poland’s Angelika Szymanska was seen off in the semi-finals with a waza-ari score proving more than enough to secure Piovesana’s spot in the final. There the Bishop Challoner judoka was faced by Serbia’s Jovana Obradovic.

Obradovic had beaten Piovesana by yuko at last year’s Junior European Championships. This time though it was the British judoka who took the win inside the first minute, transitioning well from an attempted drop seoi into koshi jime as she forced Obradovic to tap.

Bradley Stoke’s Lele Nairne won her first Junior European Cup medal in over a year as she took home silver on Saturday. The -57kg judoka had an injury hit start to the year and had come close to medalling in Paks and Berlin this summer.

Nairne made up for those near misses with some strong judo seeing off Berna Sherifovska (MKD) and Qona Christie (NZL) comfortably to make her way into the semi-finals.

Her semi-final with Shaked Amihai (ISR) was one of the contests of the day with the British judoka eventually winning by three waza-ari to one. However, in the act of scoring her third waza-ari she tweaked her hamstring. Nairne was able to see out the contest but was unable to contest the final.

Neil MacDonald (-60kg) and Eric Ham (-73kg) both picked up bronze medals on Saturday with some determined performances. MacDonald wasn’t at his best but showed his determination to secure bronze as he came through a marathon golden score contest against Lucian Bors Dumitrescu (ROU).

The Scottish judoka went into golden score with two shidos to his name but showed good contest management to stay in the match before scoring waza-ari with over eight minutes on the clock.

Glossop’s Ham came through a couple of tough contests at the start of the day against Andrii Khranovskiy (UKR) and Milan Buncic (SRB), winning both in golden score. The -73kg judoka was leading his semi-final match with Cornel Andries (ROU) before conceding a late waza-ari with the British judoka going on to lose in golden score.

Ham learnt from that mistake as he defeated Ofek Shani (ISR) by two waza-ari to one in the bronze medal contest and held off a late surge by the Israeli judoka.

There was also a fifth place finish for Jamal Petgrave (-90kg) as well as sevenths for Jamie-Leigh Whitaker (-44kg) and Olivia Spellman (-63kg).