“The event has been a good experience and a good test against competitors from around Europe so to win two titles is great for me.”
Azerbaijan won both the men’s and women’s team competition on the final day (6 August) of the 2017 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) European Judo Championships in Walsall, Great Britain.
The victories also meant that Azerbaijan topped the overall medals table with four gold, one silver and two bronze medals. Russia was second with three gold, three silver and six bronze medals and Ukraine ranked third over all with three gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
Azerbaijan’s men defend title
The team competition not only gave judokas the opportunity to compete for another European medal, but it also offered up a chance for revenge. The first bout of the men’s team final was a repeat of the up to 66kg final with European champion Ukraine’s Davyd Khorava taking on Azerbaijan’s Bayram Mustafayev.
Khorava got the better of Mustafayev in the individual final on Friday (4 August), but the Azerbaijani judoka seized some redemption in the team final, giving Azerbaijan the lead with an ippon with 42 seconds remaining.
An ippon from Paralympic gold medallist Ramil Gasimov in the second contest of the final saw Azerbaijan move to just one win away from the European title.
Next to take to the mat was Ukraine’s European champion Oleksandr Kosinov and Azerbaijan’s Huseyn Rahimli. With Kosinov knowing only victory against Rahmli, this bout would keep Ukraine’s gold medal hopes alive.In a tight contest, which went the four-minute distance, Rahmli outscored Kosinov with one waza-ari to secure the gold medal for Azerbaijan.
Ukraine’s Oleksandr Nazarenko ensured it wasn’t an Azerbaijani clean sweep as he pinned down Rovshan Safarov for an ippon in the penultimate bout.
The final contest of the men’s final lasted just 11 seconds, with seven-time European champion Ilham Zakiyev demonstrating his skill and power to throw Ukraine’s Oleksandr Pominov for an ippon to seal a 4-1 victory.
“Winning the European team event for a fifth time is a huge achievement,” Zakiyev said. “We are all very proud to represent our country at an international level and we are very happy we can take the gold medal back home with us again.”
The bronze medals went to Russia* and Turkey after their respective 3-2 and 4-1 wins over France and Great Britain in the two bronze medal contests.
Azerbaijani pair win their second gold
In the final of the women’s team competition, the Azerbaijani pair of Sevda Valiyeva and Khanim Huseynova went head-to-head with the Turkish trio of Ecem Tasin, Gulhan Atasayar and Zeynep Celik.
Turkey’s judoka advantage meant Azerbaijan needed to win the two bouts they were contesting to win gold. Valiyeva got Azerbaijan off to the perfect start, beating Tasin in the first bout of the final. The second contest went to Turkey with Atasayar taking an uncontested win to set-up a winner takes all decider between Celik and Huseynova.
In the deciding contest, Huseynova went immediately on the attack and threw Celik for an ippon less than a minute into the decider to secure the gold medal for Azerbaijan.
It was Valiyeva’s and Huseynova’s second gold of the championships after winning their respective individual events on Saturday.
“This is my first international event so I am very happy to have won two gold medals,” Valiyeva said. “The event has been a good experience and a good test against competitors from around Europe so to win two titles is great for me.”
The bronze medals in the women’s event were won by Ukraine and Germany after they overcame Greece and Russia* in their respective bronze medal contests.
*Editor’s note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games. For further information please click here