By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Two Azerbaijani judokas won the European Cup among young men, held in the Spanish city of Fuengirola held on 15-16 February.
Sahib Babayev (-50 kg) and Nahid Ismayilov (lightweight 73 kg) became gold medalists in the Azerbaijani national team. In the finals, Babayev defeated compatriot Islam Rahimov, while Ismayilov overhead Aristide Onana from France.
As for the performance of another Azerbaijani sportsman, Samir Piriyev (-55 kg) reached the final, second only to Israeli Robert Sorkin. Alirza Shikhalizada, who competed in half middleweight 81 kg, lost the finals to Pedro Lima from Portugal. Sabina Aliyeva also pleased the fans with silver in the category of women's extra lightweight 48 kg. In the decisive bout, she lost to Giulia Carna from Italy.
In addition, Azerbaijan national judo team gained three bronze medals. In the men’s -55 kg category, Gadir Huseynov along with Russian Timur Arbuzov was on the pedestal. The rest two bronzes account for women. Sabina Gadirova and Miriam Leone from Italy became European third in the half lightweight 52 kg. Aytaj Gardashkhanli and another Italian Chiara Zucarro were also honoured in lightweight 57 kg.
Thus, Azerbaijan finished the European Cup with two gold, four silver and three bronze medals.
In the total medal standings, Azerbaijan national judo team ranked second only to Italy (4,1,7). Russia encloses top three (2,3,5).
Judo became an Olympic sport at the Tokyo Games in 1964, and thus became universal. The International Judo Federation today brings together 195 national federations and 5 continental unions.
Judo is one of the most developed sports in Azerbaijan, where the National Judo Federation was established in 1972. The Azerbaijani judo team is considered one of the best in the world.
The adult judo team of Azerbaijan made considerable progress in 2016. The team won 51 awards in competitions of various levels. The results showed that Azerbaijani judokas won 351 times out of 710 fights during the year.
The Azerbaijani judo fighter, silver medalist of Rio-2016 Summer Olympic Games, Rustam Orujov was named the best in Azerbaijan's male team. Moreover, he is the strongest in the world in his weight class of 73kg, as well as among all weight classes.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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