This week sees the European Youth Olympic Festival taking part in Baku, Azerbaijan where the Cyprus Olympic Committee took a team of sixteen athletes to represent Cyprus at the Games. Of the sixteen, two of these athletes were from Judo!
The Judo contests alone had athletes from 40 European countries and a total of 297 athletes – 165 men and 132 women.
Representing Cyprus are Giorgios Balajiasvili in the -60 KG category and Panayiotis Shakkos in the -73Kg category – both categories of which had the highest number of athletes at 26 athletes per category.
It is worth noting that Giorgios was also chosen by the Cyprus Olympic Committee to be the flag bearer of Team Cyprus at the Opening Event – a singular honour and recognition of his accomplishments.
Day 1 saw Giorgios in action and first up was Olaf Loska from Poland. In a very close competition, Olaf received 2 Shido penalties and the contest went to Golden Score that lasted a mere 12 seconds when Giorgios threw him for Ippon. Next up was Gustav Brovold from Norway. The athlete from Norway received two Shido penalties and then was thrown by Giorgio in the third minute for Ippon and another win for our athlete.
His next opponent was Rizen Magomadov from Russia, a formidable opponent who this year had already got Gold in the Bielsko Biala Cadet European Cup and Bielsko Biala Cadet European Cup tournaments as well as Bronze in the European Cadet Championships. The contest was very close with attacks from both athletes, but Giorgios was thrown for an Ippon at the end of the second minute. Magomadov progressed to the Final so this made Giorgios eligible for the Repechage.
His first opponent here was Antonin Dvoracek from the Czech Republic who had got Bronze in the Koper Cadet European Cup in 2018. Giorgios scored a Waza-ari and then a second one in the fourth minute to take him to the next round where he fought Andrejs Skomorohovs from Lativia – another tough competitor who this year had already gotten Gold at the Coimbra Cadet European Cup, fifth place at the European Cadet Championships and Bronze at the Teplice Cadet European Cup. This was a very fast and explosive contest with the Lativan scoring first with a Waza-Ari in the first 30 seconds before Giorgios threw him or Ippon at the end of the first minute.
This took Giorgios to the contest for third place Bronze where he came up against Muhammed Demirel from Turkey who had gotten Silver at the European Cadet Championships this year and in 2018 had gotten Gold at the Antalya Cadets European Cup and Bronze at the European Cadets Championships. The contest started with a lot of control from both athletes, but with Giorgios attacking more. this earnt the Turkish athlete a Shido for Non-Combativity in the first minute. At the end of the second minute, after attacks from both athletes Giorgios lifted his opponent for Ura-Nage and scored a huge Waza-Ari – unlucky not to be Ippon. With 90 secinds to go the Turkish athlete received another Shido and this made him attack more to avoid disqualification. With 20 seconds to go Giorgios received a Shido for a false attack and then the contest continued to Ne-Waza where Giorgios controlled his opponent on the ground until the time ran out.
BRONZE for Giorgios and Third place – an EXCELLENT result.
One thing to note, Giorgios won each of his contests with a different throw!
We would like to thank the Technical Director of the Federation, Christodoulos Christodoulides who accompanied Team Cyprus as Coach for the Judo athletes.
Giorgios did the Cyprus Judo Federation, the Cyprus Olympic Committee and our country proud with his Bronze medal.
The standard of the Judo in Cyprus is on the rise and we will ensure that it keeps getting better and better. Our athletes, all of them, have a lot of potential and the Federation is behind them all the way.
Cyprus Judo Federation – We Have A Dream!