n incredibly competitive weekend has come to an end in Sofia (Bulgaria) during the first European Open of the year. By the end of day two the total number of 14 gold medals been spread amongst 11 countries. There are only two nations which were able to double it up for the weekend, namely Russia and Slovenia, which of the last happened to take all the golden moments throughout today.
Young, yet very talented Slovenian judoka, Klara APOTEKAR shined throughout the day as she won all five of her contest, three of which with her already tactically outstanding judo skills. The first contest seen Larissa GROENWOLD of the Netherlands taking on all the challenges of Apotekar who scored a waza-ari to take a lead to round two of the -78kg category. The second contest seen 2016 Cuba Grand Prix bronze medallist Assunta GALEONE (ITA) being challenged by the 18 years old judoka. This was the time where Apotekar’s tactical skills shined as she defeated her opponent on penalties.
There was no different against Barbara BANDEL (GER) in the quarter-final who was overpowered by a single penalty. In the semi-finals, Apotekar pulled out her ne-waza skills to implement an armlock on Ivana MARANIC (CRO). Portugal’s 2016 Rio Olympic hopeful, Yahima RAMIREZ was in opposition to take the gold away from 2015 U23 European Champion, Apotekar. For the golden stake, the Slovenian judoka brought back some of her previously used tactical skills and crushed Ramirez on penalties.
“I am very happy. I didn’t expect to win a medal here. I only came here for experience. I only have one medal from senior tournaments and it is this gold medal I won today. The hardest fight was definitely my second contest because I was facing the number one seeded. I lost against her twice already and I know her very well and so I knew what she will do. At the end, I felt she was tired and the next thing I knew I won the contest”, Apotekar explained.
“My next aim will be to win a medal at a Grand Prix or Grand Slam tournament. Velensek is actually my half sister. We train together and her results pushes me to work even harder because I want to be succesful like her”, she added.
The next European Open will take place in two weeks’ time when all female athletes will head out to Rome (Italy) to challenge each other, whilst the male competitors will battle out the weekend in Oberwart (Austria).