European TQO: it’s off to a good start!

This first day of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), which is held at the Grand Dôme in Villebon-sur-Yvette after starting more than a year ago in London, was full of breathless duels. While most of the headliners held their own, outsiders upset the hierarchy.

Planetary and continental medallist, the Englishman Pat McCormack (-69 kg), with sprawling arms and an incomparable look, displayed the whole panoply of noble art to outclass the brave Monegasque Hugo Micallef. His technical palette worked wonders, like that of his compatriot Benjamin Whittaker (-81 kg) who had left with bronze from the last World Championships and who took the lead over the Romanian Paul-Andrei Aradoaie. Moreover, among the strong men, the show was at the rendezvous. Thus, the Croatian Luka Plantic (-81 kg), silver at the 2014 YOG, shredded with his whip-like strokes the Armenian Gor Nersesyan, who ended up turning his back on him in sign of abandonment recorded by the referee.

The Cuban school was in the spotlight

For its part, the Cuban school was in the spotlight. Olympic vice-champion in Rio, Lorenzo Sotomyaor Collazo (-69 kg), naturalized Azerbaijani for love, bet on his vista, timing and mobility to not fall into the trap set by the Dane Sebastian Terteryan who played his luck, sometimes using a little vice. This was evidenced by the open left eyebrow arch of his rival. Winner of the European Games in 2019, Loren Berto Alfonso Dominguez (-81 kg), defector from the island of the late Fidel Castro and also Azerbaijani by adoption, also made his beautiful technique speak against the too stereotypical Ukrainian Stefan Hrekul. 2019 world champion, The Russian Andrei Zamkovoi (-69 kg) inflicted a knockout on the Greek Dionysos Pefanis.

Finally, in middleweight, the Ukrainian Oleksandr Khyzhniak, who achieved the Grand Slam by winning successively the World Championships, the European Championships and the European Games, appears as the scarecrow of the category. His display at the expense of Englishman Lewis Richardson, who was counted, was a pattern of the genre as was his devastating left hook.

Caroline Dubois, the passion of her youth

These ladies were not left out. In featherweight (-57 kg), the Russian Liudmila Vorontsova, despite being vice-champion of the world 2019, did not manage to get rid of the vice cleverly concocted by the European champion, the slender Irma Testa who therefore created the surprise by winning against all odds. In this same category, the Bulgarian Stanimira Petrova (world champion 2014 and double European champion in 2016 and 2018) was able to use her ring intelligence and surgical gestures to stem the constant pressing of the Polish Sandra Kruk whose enthusiasm was too disordered to make the 2014 world champion and European champion 2016 and 2018, bite the dust.

To mention, in the lightweight category, is the unexpected victory of the Englishwoman Caroline Dubois against the Finnish Mira M.J. Potkonen, who, in the past, has risen on the podium of the World Championships, the European Championships and the Olympic Games. The sister of heavyweight Daniel Dubois was able to approach this deadline in an uninhibited way, with the passion of her youth even if it was somewhat disorderly. Maïva Hamadouche, by winning the showdown against the Croatian Marija Malenica, and the Irish Kellie A. Harrington (2018 world champion), by making her precision speak in front of the Polish Aneta Rygielska, on the other hand, were up to their favorites position. This was not the case for the Russian Ekaterina Dynnik, world and continental medallist but undermined by the Turkish Esra Yildiz.

In -75 kg, the British Lauren Price, world champion, had little difficulty in dominating the French Davina Michel by compensating for her size deficit with her speed of execution. The Russian Zenfira Magomedalieva, double vice-champion of the world and Europe, did not miss her debut either. Sober, efficient and sufficiently active, she strangled the valiant but limited Hungarian Timea Nagy.

Translated by Laurence Lorenzon