Diko still crowned, eight medals for the Blues

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Sofia (AFP) – Aged just 22, Romane Diko won his third style crown at the European Judo Championships on Sunday in Sofia, where France leaves with eight medals.

By defeating Israel’s Raz Hershko in the over 78 kg weight category in the final, Diko, the world number one in her category, allowed France to win their third title at this Euro after Shirin Boukli on Friday (up to 48 kg) and Marie-Ev. Gaye on Saturday (-70 kg).

Long-awaited for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, Romana Diko, who studies mathematics at the Sorbonne in parallel with her career, has already become the European champion in 2018 and 2020.

The joy of the French woman Romane Diko, who won her third continental crown (+78 kg), defeating the Israeli Raz Gershko in the final at the European Judo Championship, May 1, 2022 in Sofia Nikolay DOYCHINOV AFP

In three appearances, the one who also has a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics has never lost a single fight in the continental competition.

On Sunday, after a bit of a scare in her first fight, she bent all her opponents with ippon, showing herself particularly quickly in the quarterfinals against the polka Kinga Wolszczak, who lost in 44 seconds.

Frenchman Romane Diko, who won with ippon in 44 seconds against Polish Kinga Volshchak, in the quarterfinals (+78 kg) at the European Judo Championships, May 1, 2022 in Sofia
Frenchman Romane Diko, who won with ippon in 44 seconds against Polish Kinga Volshchak, in the quarterfinals (+78 kg) at the European Judo Championships, May 1, 2022 in Sofia Nikolay DOYCHINOV AFP

“Today I was a little tense. It’s true, unfortunately it’s stressful when you’re a category leader,” she said. “And once in the final I said to myself + Romana, well, you have a European medal. Let the horses go and have fun!

In the final against world No. 3, Diko showed impressive control and quickly took the lead in a waza-ari after 30 seconds. At 1:30 from the gong, she finally knocked Gershko down on a new hippon.

Frenchman Roman Diko vs. Israeli Raz Hershko during the fight in the final (+78kg) at the European Judo Championships, May 1, 2022 in Sofia.
Frenchman Roman Diko vs. Israeli Raz Hershko during the fight in the final (+78kg) at the European Judo Championships, May 1, 2022 in Sofia. Nikolay DOYCHINOV AFP

Her next major encounter on her way to the Paris Olympics will be next October in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, during the World Championships, which she has never competed in.

“Disappointment” for Malonga

A little earlier in the afternoon, Madeleine Malonga, vice-champion of the Tokyo Olympics last summer, had to settle for a bronze medal in the 78 kg category.

The 2019 world champion received her medal without a fight in the repechage final as her opponent, Portuguese Patricia Sampaio, was forced to withdraw due to injury.

After winning with a gold tally for running, 28-year-old Malonga, world No. 2 in her category, lost in the quarterfinals to Italy’s Alice Bellandi, world No. 29, before recovering in a repechage against Britain’s Natalie Powell.

“Frustration is inevitable because I am a fighter,” admitted Malonga. “I’m going to get back to work and just keep moving forward.”

Frenchwoman Madeleine Malonga against British Natalie Powell during the repechage (up to 78 kg) at the European Judo Championships, May 1, 2022 in Sofia.
Frenchwoman Madeleine Malonga against British Natalie Powell during the repechage (up to 78 kg) at the European Judo Championships, May 1, 2022 in Sofia. Nikolay DOYCHINOV AFP

Despite his disappointment, the Frenchman still won his fourth European medal after two titles in 2018 and 2020 and a bronze in 2019.

In the absence of their stars Teddy Riner, still in training, and Clarissa Agbenenu, who is expecting a baby girl, France ends their competition as the best nation with eight medals: three golds, two silvers and three bronzes.

Among these eight medals, only one belongs to the male contingent. Of the nine representatives, only Cedric Revol, who took third place in the 60 kg category on Friday, managed to climb the podium.

The joy of the Frenchman Cedric Revol after winning the bronze medal (up to 60 kg), defeating the Georgian Lukhumi Chkhvimiani, during the European Judo Championships, May 1, 2022 in Sofia.
The joy of the Frenchman Cedric Revol after winning the bronze medal (up to 60 kg), defeating the Georgian Lukhumi Chkhvimiani, during the European Judo Championships, May 1, 2022 in Sofia. Nikolay DOYCHINOV AFP

At the previous stage in Lisbon, the Blues collected the same number of medals, but only Amandine Bouchard was decorated with gold.

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