Four Belgian medallists at the European Judo Championships
It is the biggest haul of medals collected by the Belgian delegation for nearly 20 years, with four judokas climbing onto the podium at the European Judo Championships.
This had not happened since the European Championships in Düsseldorf in 2003. However, Belgium had only seven judokas this year: Ellen Salens (-48 kg), Mina Libeer (-57 kg) and Gabriella Willems (-70 kg) for women and Jorre Verstraeten (-60 kg), Matthias Casse (-81 kg), Sami Chouchi (-81 kg) and Yves Ndao (+100 kg) for men. And on the tatamis of Sofia (Bulgaria), they were only missing a gold for the feat to appear even greater.
On the men's side, newly crowned world championship Matthias Casse came for gold in -81kg, but had to be satisfied with a new title of European vice-champion like last year. In the same category, Sami Chouchi climbed on the third step of the podium. This is the second European medal of his career, after the silver he won in Tel Aviv in 2018. Jorre Verstraeten (-60 kg) also won a bronze medal. The 24-year-old Leuven native thus bought home the bronze medal from a European Championships for the third time in his career.
The great surprise came from the women's side, with Mina Libeer. The Ghent native who fights in the -57 kg category also won bronze. This is the first medal of her career in a European Championships for the judoka who failed to reach the podium last year.
Belgium is undoubtedly a country to be reckoned with on the tatamis at European level.