Gold and silver medals at the European Judo Championships
Toma Nikiforov has won the European Championships in Lisbon, beating the world number one in his category (-100 kg) in the final. Matthias Casse (-81 kg) won silver. This is a good omen with under 100 days to go before the Olympics!
Matthias Casse and Toma Nikiforov showed that they were back to their best level on the tatamis of Lisbon, where the 70th European Judo Championships were being held.
Matthias Casse was the first to shine by reaching the final of the -81 kg. But his previous long, tough fights had visibly exhausted him during this one-day competition. He went on to lose in the final against the Turk Albayrak. "I'm leaving Lisbon with a lot of confidence. It's a pity we didn't get to hear the Brabançonne (national anthem of Belgium). Next time," said the Antwerp native with a smile.
As for Toma Nikiforov, he is still on a high after his first Grand Slam title in Tashkent and his bronze medal from Tbilisi last March. Unlike his friend Matthias Casse, he won all four of his qualifying bouts before the deadline, without having to fight the golden score. For his European final, the Brussels native met the Georgian Liparteliani, the world number one in the category. And to everyone's surprise, he knocked him down with an ippon mid-fight.
The two Belgian judokas are now full of confidence before their flight to the Tokyo Games.