The Netherlands had an outstanding start of the first day of the European Youth Olympic Festival 2022 with two gold medals in two lightweight categories.
The first gold for the Dutch was pre-calculated as youngster Vera Wandel showed her terrific shape the whole season during the European Cup tour. She indeed walked into the final U44kg with Hungarian Szabina Szeleczki as her opponent in the final. It was like quarter final of the European Cup in Teplice this year and again Wandel became the winner. Wandel also caught the European title and seems to become the most successful cadet of this year with the World Championships still to follow.
The final was actually quite tight with a golden score as result, but the three penalties for Szeleczki was the decision in the contest and gave Wandel again a position at the highest stage.
Another gold for the Dutch wasn’t expected, but we realise that Jochen van Harten was at least a medal challenger. He made it to the final though and was opposed to Azeri Nurlan Karimli. Azerbaijan have a reputation when it comes to European lightweights at cadet level, but this time it was the young Dutchman who lifted his opponent for a combination with uchimata.
It was the first time that the Dutch had won two gold medals at EYOF in one day, it happened for the fourth time. In 2019 Joanne van Lieshout and Elin Henninger claimed the gold at the second day, in 2013 in Utrecht (NED) the Dutch opened with two gold medals as well.
Azerbaijan is still a nation that can dominate this festival but at day one they were unlucky with three silver medals. It was Georgia’s Daviti Lomitashvili who caught the gold medal in the boys U55kg class. Lomitashvili matched up with Murad Aliyev (AZE) in the final but the Georgian had his momentum and lifted his opponent for uchi mata resulting in wazari but the finish was achieved in ne-waza with osaekomi and a gold medal for Georgia. Lomitashvili took bronze at the Europeans but waited for this big one to take the gold.
Where you might expect gold for Azerbaijan for girls U48kg was surprised by Italy’s Illaria Finestrone who claimed the victory in her class. Against Konul Aliyeva (AZE) she made no mistakes and scored in the first minute. Enough time for the Azeri to strike back but Finestrone kept her head cool and resisted Aliyeva’s attacks and countered in ne-waza to Italy’s first gold medal. The last Italian girl who captured the EYOF title U48kg is double Olympic medallist Odette Giuffrida. That is an outlook Finestrone is now signing for. She signs for gold today at the Festival that will continue the action on Wednesday.