This week, the European Championship Shinkyokushin will be held in Poland! As mention before, adding new categories has not only increased the number of athletes in the tournament – but we are looking forward to some new match up between fighters that has been in separate categories previous years. Some of the strong profiles are retired, but we are also very happy to see the next generation really steps up! And of course some “immortal” are still going strong!
In the heaviest category we not only have European Champions, but also World Champions, similar to the -60 kg category. And not less then four European Champions – only counting senior category.
On home soil and in front of home crowd Agata Winiarska /Kaliciak will be more than ready to take the European tittle. 2017 was a very good year for the polish top fighter. After failing in the European Championship in Denmark and losing in the primarily rounds, things took a different direction. The more waited outcome would be at the podium in EC and then qualified to the World Championship in weight categories in Kazakhstan later on. But non of that did happen, so participating in the IFK World Champion was next – and that resulted with 1st place! 6 month later the KWU world championship was the next test, and once again a World title was captured by the Polish athletes. So.. could it be that the WKO/EKO EC would be the next tittle? That could very well happen..
The reign European Champion Sara Hägge, Sweden, has been keeping the pressure up. With the European Championship tittle taken, Hägge was ready for the World Championship in weight categories. Loosing in round two against Russian fighter Anna Vishnyakova was noted, did get her revenge against Vishnyakova in this years version of the Diamond Cup in Belgium. And a sweet victory for Hägge as well, because that was the final of the tournament! Hägge will be working hard to defend her tittle this year, and work hard she must – because there is a very hard line with challengers!
Last years runner up Monika Ryzkovaite, Lithuania are ready to go, and do also have a powerful teammate in Brigita Gustaitytė. These two fighters will most likely be closing in at the podium, a place they are used to be after tournaments! Both these Lithuanian are strong and with a physically demanding fight style to meet. Even so if you manage to take this pressure, or/and to sole it with tactic and smart fighting (and that on a high level) you will for sure use tons of energy. And both seems to be in the right shape, winning their category in the Lithuanian nationals. Ryzkovaite the 65-70 kg category, and Gustaitytė the above 70 kg category.
We are used to see great support from the Eastern Europe countries in the categories, but in this category it is a little more even out. Camille Haddouche, France, has been very active and we do also remember last year European Championship, Haddouche facing Hägge – and that was a long and hard battle, Haddouche did no give anything for free and did follow Hägge into extensions before Sweden advanced. Haddouche kept on through the year, and ended third in the KWU World Championship. 2018 has also being in the same line, so this will be interesting, Haddouche still misses a WKO/EKO EC medal. Last test could we say was the win French open, in the final Haddouche snatched the win over Brigita Gustaitytė in a really hard fight going the distance. Long final did also appear in the Branko Memorial 2017, facing a another of the fighters in this line up: Aiala Garcia, Spain.
Aiala Garcia is a solid fighter, and what she lack in reach she got in movements and reading the outcome of the attacks of her opponents. Reached the podium last year in the European Championship, and that would be her strongest merit -up to now. Looking at this years line up, we do believe it would be harder to reach the podium this time. Some of those that also will be a factor, butt misses the big tittles -up to now: a tough Anna Bojda, Poland, very skilled Christine Buchholtz, Denmark and a up and coming Svitlana Lagno, Ukraine with very good U-22 EC merits lately.
As mention in the -65 category:
Note: Last minutes change? Just after posting this article, Andreea Merca, Romania, switched category and are now to find in the over 65 kg. If this is correct this category will loose one of the strong contenders to the podium.
Last years EC champion in a higher category is nothing new, but when you move up/ into the heaviest category the size difference could be more than one is used to. But as a European Champion you will for sure take this kind of challenges. Andreea Merca will be interesting to follow – regardless of which category she fight in!