BUCHAREST, Romania (March 13) -- Spain's women's team emerged victorious at the European Grappling Championships, held in Bucharest, Romania, over the weekend. Led by Anna CASTELLS' (ESP) two gold medals, the Spanish team showcased their skills and determination to claim the team title.
The Spain women's team outplaced grappling powerhouse Ukraine in both the styles -- Grappling and Gi. Castells won gold medals in both events.
Grappling at 64kg, Castells took on Sandra PNIAK (POL) in the final of Grappling. After a slow start, Castells scored a takedown when Pniak slowed down. In the same scramble, Pniak managed to reverse the position and Castells gave up two points. Pniak cleverly broke the lock with 30 seconds remaining and decided to defend her 2-2 criteria lead.
However, in the final 20 seconds, Castells managed to throw Pniak and score exposure for two points to win 4-2.
A day later, she grappled another Poland grappler. In the 64kg final of the Gi event, Joanna ZABULEWICZ (POL) challenged Castells but met the same fate as her teammate Pniak.
Zabulewicz decided to go to the mat first which gave Castells two points. The Spaniard was penalized for being passive after going on top as Zabulewicz got her first point. Zabulewicz continued to engage Castells who was clearly not in the mood to engage. She was once again called for passivity and her lead now was 2-2 on criteria.
In the final minute, realizing that she may be called passive for the third time, Castells decided to be more active. She did not score a point but was enough to continue to grapple Zabulewicz and win 2-2.
Castells' success at the European Grappling Championships is just the latest achievement. Last year, she won the World Championships in Grappling at 64kg in front of her home crowd.
Four other European champions were crowned in Grappling with Pnina ARONOV (ISR) winning at 53kg, Melissa BENEDINI (ITA) winning the gold at 58kg, world champion Kateryna SHAKALOVA (UKR) winning the 71kg gold and Janina CZYCZYN (POL) claiming the gold at 90kg.
Janina CZYCZYN (POL) won two gold medals at the European Championships. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)
Czyczyn won the gold medal in the Gi event as well, claiming the title at 90kg over teammate Magdalena ZASZCZUDLOWICZ (POL).
In the Gi event, Spain had an even better performance with three gold medalists. Apart from Castells, Naiomi MATTHEWS (ESP) won the 53kg gold and Micaela COMPANY (ESP) won the 71kg gold. Shakalova decided to give the Gi event a miss.
But Ukraine still had a champion as Viktoriia SYNIAVINA (UKR) won the gold medal in the 58kg weight class.
Roman KIZIUK (UKR) won the 92kg gold medals in both competitions. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)
Roman KIZIUK (UKR) lit up the arena in Bucharest with two exceptional performances over two days, winning the 92kg gold medals at both Grappling and Grappling Gi events.
Undoubtedly the biggest star of the competition, Kiziuk continued where in left in Pontevedra, Spain last year and dominated the competition in Bucharest, adding two European golds to his World Championships golds.
In the Gi format, Kiziuk faced Roy DAGAN (ISR) in the final and was on the offensive from the word go. While Dagan tried to get Kiziuk in a headlock using his legs, the Ukrainian kept searching for scoring options. Dagan gave up after two minutes which allowed Kiziuk to move into headpinch position which gave him three points in the 5-0 win.
Earlier in the day, Kiziuk got two walkovers and one win via submission to enter the final.
In the Grappling event, Kiziuk was even more lethal, beginning with a 5-0 win over Avraham IBRAGIMOV (ISR), an 18-0 thrashing of Eduard ORAC (FRA) in the quarterfinals and beating Piotr FRECHOWICZ (POL) 2-1 in the semifinal.
He faced teammate Mykhailo MUZYCHENKO (UKR), he scored a 3-1 victory but did most of the attacking. In the final minute, he got penalized a point for passivity but that did not do too much harm.
His win in Grappling Gi helped Ukraine win the team title with 120 points, four more than second-placed Israel.
Ukraine finished second in the Grappling event with Poland dominating the show and finishing with 133 points. Ukraine finished second with 104 points.
Andrzej IWAT (POL) won gold medals at 100kg in both Grappling and Grappling Gi events. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)
Jakub NAJDEK (POL), Mateusz MAZUR (POL) and Andrzej IWAT (POL) were the European champions for Poland in 77kg, 84kg and 100kg respectively.
Other champions in Grappling included Omri HAVIV (ISR) at 62kg, Anthony DE OLIVEIRA (FRA) at 66kg, Alessio SACCHETTI (ITA) at 71kg and Ioannis KARGIOTAKIS (GRE) at 130kg.
Alessio SACCHETTI (ITA) was a double champion in Bucharest. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)
Apart from Kiziuk in the Gi event, Sacchetti and Iwat also claimed twin gold medals. Sacchetti defeated Iker CAMARA (ESP) in the Grappling 71kg final 8-0 and Viki DABUSH (ISR) 4-2 in the Gi final.
Iwat faced Ivan Malin in the two finals and managed to win close bouts. In the Grappling final, he defeated Malin 4-2 and in the Gi final, he won 6-4.
Other champions in Gi were Mayis NERSESYAN (ARM) at 62kg, Alejandro CARRERAS (ESP) at 66kg, Pavlo MAKSYMCHUK (UKR) at 77kg, Nimrod RYEDER (ISR) at 84kg and Wojciech WILK (POL) at 130kg.
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