Germany’s Paralympic, world and European medallist Nikolai Kornhass secured his first major international title at the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo European Championships in Genova, Italy, on Friday (26 July).
Kornhass was competing at his third regional Championships in the men’s up to 73kg and overcame Russia’s defending champion Vasilii Kutuev.
While he has reached the podium twice before with bronze in 2015 and then silver in 2017, and having secured a series of medals at the World Championships and Paralympic Games, the German has never topped the podium.
That all changed within one of the best contests of the day at the RDS Stadium in central Genova.
A technical wizard, Kornhass went head-to-head with Kutuev in a re-run of the final from two years ago in Warsaw, Great Britain.
Both athletes looked dangerous throughout the match but neither had the leading edge. It was eventually pushed into Golden Score.
As the clock ticked over one minute, Kornhass executed an impressive hip throw on Kutuev to overturn the result from the last edition and claim gold.
“I am really happy with gold at this tournament and that it worked the way I wanted,”
Kornhass said. “In the last years I have increased my level…so I am very happy.”
Despite losing his title Kutuev’s consolation prize will be beating Azerbaijan’s Paralympic champion Ramil Gasimov earlier in the day to secure his place in the final.
Gasimov did still finish on the podium with third alongside Ukraine’s Rufat Mahomedov.
Alexandru Bologa retained his European title with a quick and clean throw of his Turkish opponent Recep Cifti in the men’s up to 60kg.
“I am very happy to reclaim my medal from the last European Championships and I hope this is a good start for getting a medal in Tokyo [at the Paralympics],” Bologa said.
Germany’s Shugga Sami Ali Nashwan matched his performance from two years ago with bronze.
Georgia’s Zurab Zurabiani overcame Russia’s Zaur Dzhabrilov to also take third place.
Ukraine’s London 2012 Paralympic champion Davyd Khorava had to wait until the last 60 seconds of his men’s up to 66kg match with Azerbaijan’s Bayram Mustafayev before he could gain the advantage.
Khorava, the defending regional title holder, managed to wrap his legs around Mustafayev in ne waza and hold him down for ippon.
Spain’s Sergio Ibanez Banon was delighted with his bronze after an energy-sapping tie with Georgia’s Giorgi Kaldani, ending only because of three shido for Kaldani. Azerbaijan’s Namig Abasli joined Ibanez Banon on the podium.
France’s up to 52kg Paralympic champion Sandrine Martinet took under 20 seconds to fell Russian 25-year-old Anastasiia Chudina in the women’s up to 48kg.
Martinet’s experience shone through over Chudina, allowing her to achieve the ippon.
However Chudina will be pleased with her silver on her international debut, which came after she knocked out Ukraine’s European champion Yuliya Halinska in the preliminary rounds.
Germany’s Paralympic silver medallist was handed three shido to give the bronze to Turkey’s Ecem Tasin, herself a Paralympic and European podium finisher.
Russia’s Victoria Potapova claimed bronze by default after Halinska decided not to contest her final fight of the day.
Turkey’s world and European title holder Zeynep Celik showed her quality in the women’s up to 57kg against Azerbaijan’s Sevda Valiyeva. A beautiful leg sweep from Celik put Valiyeva on her back and onto the top of the podium.
“It is important for me that I win this Championships in Italy,” Celik said. “It is the first time that I came here and the people are warm, the city is warm, the country is warm – everything is perfect, the perfect conditions. I am very happy to win the Championships here.”
With an eye on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Celik continued: “I am ready but I have one year more to prepare myself. Let’s see what happens. My goal is to win the gold at the Paralympic Games, so I will hope I will succeed.”
Ukraine’s Liudmyla Lohatska picked up bronze against Croatia’s Jelena Breskovic.
Russia’s Natalia Ovchinnikova emerged the victor from a tactical battle with Belarusian Elena Bogdanova. The referee determined that Bogdanova was not giving enough in reply to her Russian challenger and she was penalised with three shido.
Ukraine’s Paralympic champion Inna Cherniak continued her unbeaten run in the women’s up to 52kg.
Sweeping a leg out from underneath Russia’s Alesia Stepaniuk with her first move, Cherniak kept her European title and added to her gold medal run which began in 2015.
German Paralympic silver medallist Ramona Brussig was awarded the win in her bronze medal fight against Emmanouela Masourou after the Greek was injured.
Azerbaijan’s Sabina Abdullayeva secured the other bronze medal against Turkey’s Cahide Eke.
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The 2019 IBSA Judo European Championships run from 26-28 July and feature around 130 athletes from 18 countries.
Live coverage is being shown at IBSA’s YouTube channel and IBSA Judo’s Facebook page.