12-13. April 2019, Lithuania, Vilnius – European Championship Shinkyokushin was organized.With some of the favorites out of the tournament, one could think that some big hole must be filled…but EKO Shinkyokushin – “The fight dispenser” took care of that! And should we just writhe a hymn..that’s have rimes with nineteen and Dimitrov?!
The level of organizing was at its very best – as we are used to see from Lithuania. Siemens Arena holds a very high standard, good capacity, good air and space. And the action on the tatami – have we seen it so even between the nations before? The favorites are still the favorites – but nothing can be taken for granted.
A quick look at the results (if we take the men divisions first) We have five categories, with five champions from five nations. This alone make the European Shinkyokushin Championship quite unique, and the interest will be kept high. If one have mainly one nation taking it all – year after year, the interest will fall. As we have seen in many cases and different kind of sports.
As we have seen the latest year, the lightest categories have been strongly challenged by nations far East, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Also nations as Romania, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania are into the top 4. Further up in the categories Hungary, Bulgaria and more Lithuania an Poland. (This would be the time to confirm that next years EC will be held in Georgia 2020 3-4 April.)
This year -65 kg category ended up with a switch comparing to last year. Thisyear Emin Ismayilli / Azerbaijan manage to get the victory against Andrei Zinchenko / Georgia. A very hard and even final, from two fighters that shows incredible stamina and spirit. Stylish they fought a lot like, maybe some more low-kicks from Ismayilli toward the end. In this twenty fighters category, we saw many very entertaining fights, between top athletes. In the lightest category we of course know the speed and pace will be insanely high, but once again we see really powerful striking and kicking – not a bad combination at all. Both finalists meet their opponents teammate in the semi,in other world the third place was taken by Georgia (Sergo Movsesyan) and Azerbaijan (Khayal Nuriyev) as well. This set up was the same lat year – but in an earlier stage, as they fought in the quarter final. This years quarter finals eliminated Poland with Daniel Sternink, Bulgaria with Aleksandar Kostadinov and Lithuania with Mantas Chrapačas and Jonas Eimontas. In the future we will see if more nations reach the podium, it will be hard looking at the record of Zinchenko and Ismayilli. Zinchenko victories every second year: 2014,16 and 18 as Ismayilli in between: 2017 and 2019.
A veteran victory in the under 75 kg category by another fighter from far East, Mikheil Tsiklauri / Georgia. Ten years ago, he claimed his first EC tittle (EC in Ukraine) – and in total this is his third. Taking the final in the ordinary round against Justinas Kvietka / Lithuania, who for his first time entered the EC final. Kvietka have a very unorthodox and difficult style to tame, combine with a stressful pressure one also have to face. Was challenge some in the quarter final by Romeo Gablaia / Georgia – the Georgian fighter had advanced against one of the favorites George Suciu / Romania. Suciu entered the tournament with an leg injury, that he worsened during the match, and that became crucial. Kvietka into the semi vs a very promising young fighter from Hungary – Farkas Mór Fekete. Fekete was impressing trough the whole tournament, strength and speed supporting excellent technique – and when the pace raises it is still very technical! (A kind of parallel to the other semi, with young Bulgarian fighter Tsvetan Urumov.) Outpaces one of the favorites in the quarter final, Domas Sutkus / Lithuania, before semi final vs Kvietka. The reach and size of the Lithuanian fighter are clearly in favor, but differences makes fights as well. Kvietka takes it after a long hard fight, closes it with high pressure and messing it up to a physical play.
Tsiklauri controls the final very well, and do not Kvietka get the chance to get away with anything without paying for it. Deep stomach punches and attack to the legs, and a strong finish Kvietka not can answer. Tsiklauri with his third tittle, Kvietka with his EC final.
Into the under 85 kg category it was a question who could take five fights – or five wins in other words. Valeri Dimitrov / Bulgaria was favorite – but on the other hand three top Lithuanian fighters on home soil.. In this matter we suspect that a victory against Dimitrov would be higher that the EC tittle itself. In Dimitrov’s third fight, the quarter final, Lasha Ozbetelashvili / Georgia was ready. The fight started with good exchanges, and the pace only increases the further out in the fight it goes. Ozbetelashvili seems most aggressive in the first part, before Valeri takes more and more over – in familiar style. Last part of the match you see a class difference – and that despite the fact that Ozbetelashvili holds a very good level!
The semifinal for Dimitrov was of an other character. Kęstutis Radvila / Lithuania, more of a power-fighter, good lowkicks and he is physically strong. The fight becomes a long demanding fight. Dimitrov higher pace and movement, angling his attacks – but Radvila is strong and comes back. Into the extra round, many waits to see some reaction on Radvila’s front leg (inside shin, since Dimitrov had been thrown heel-kicks trough the whole fight. Radvila increasing the pressure – Dimitrov see him raises again. This results into a decision in the favor of Vale Dimitrov.
In the other semi, Vytautas Cėpla / Lithuania leaves the victory to his country man Juras Sokolovas without a fight. Juras Sokolovas went down a category this year, reached the final also last year, but was put flat on his back by champion Mazur.
This time it became even longer fight, and a pattern was that Sokolovas throwing his technics light, but fast. Many speculated as the fight went on that he tried to win the fight in the eyes of the judges with higher number of technics..and of course save energy. Into the 2nd extension Dimitrov’s movements comes more and more into play,as Juras Sokolovas keep on his high pace, lighter style. Looking at the flurries of knees thrown, it is clear that the most of them never (meant to?) connect. Anyway, Valeri Dimitrov takes a 5-0 victory, with Lithuania taking rest of the podium.
In the under 95 kg category, Lithuania could collect their only gold in the men’s division. Edgard Sečinski, clearly the favorite did not disappoint. Facing young and very talented Anatolii Zhuravel / Ukraine in the final. And this was the third top fighter from Lithuania he faced. Defeated Dominykas Juškevičius in the quarter final, and the same results against Orestas Abazorius in the semi. Abazorius came out from a victory Todor Todorov / Bulgaria and a little debatable decision against a very entertaining Levente Magyar / Hungary, with some real nice devastating combos ala lowkicks.
Sečinski on his side went trough first fight, and faced Marek Wolny / Poland in the second with a win after 3 minutes – 3-2 on flags, that many believed would go into extension. In the semi final Levan Verulidze / Georgia – tough fighter, and he really gives a good impression – but one do have the feeling trough the fight that he turn out a number too small. Slowly but sure, Sečinski controls the fight and advances after one extension. The final are very even in the ordinary round, both connects with punches, Zhuravel with good lowkicks – Sečinski with knees to the body. In the extra round Sečinski comes more in, and puts the pressure on from close distance – and head to head the fights are going more and more into his direction. First tittle for Sečinski – and a step up for Zhuravel.
+95 kg, the heaviest category could offer some real highlight this time! Moving upward from lower categories, Maciej Mazur / Poland, have taken with him European tittles. This was third on in a row, maybe one of the most impressing one. Taking on solid German fighter in the first, Konstantin Korolihin. In the second fight Jurģis Pušmucāns / Latvia and in the semifinal it really hits off vs Antanas Klibavičius / Lithuania. A very powerful fight, with some devastating exchanges. Both with very strong punches from close distance. Mazur also adds more kicks to the legs. After a break where the judge separate them, they starts of, and Mazur throws in some very round-kicks to the midsection. This seems to soften up Klibavičius some, he closes the distance. However, Mazur going hard to his body, and a series of punches pumped in – well timed , breaks Antanas Klibavičius down. Scoring for Mazur, the fight starts again and both charges in with an insane speed and power! Mazur repeat what he just did, and earns his victory!
Into the final with Mazur, and from the opposite side: Paulius Žimantas / Lithuania. Žimantas impresses with some great skills against a good Mateusz Kaptur / Poland in the quarter final, gets walk over in the semi vs Andras David / Hungary. Žimantas is on fire, and goes after Mazur from the start – and he does so really hard! He manage to shock Mazur in the opening, and one thought that it will be a consequence. And it became on in the order that Mazur turned the tables, and as in the semi his opponent could not stand against his power and precision. Žimantas breaks after body punches and can not continue. Maciej Mazur takes his third EC tittle, and that in a way that is remembered.