French judoka Luka Mkheidze, bronze medalist at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, was crowned European champion in the under 60 kg category on Friday in Montpellier.
Mkheidze beat the Ukrainian Dilshot Khalmatov in the final by waza-ari. He won his first European title, after his silver medal won two years ago.
“I remembered 2021 when I lost in the final. So once I reached the final I repeated to myself: You have no right to lose, you will regret it,” he said just after his victory. “I didn’t give up and the gold medal is there.”
To reach the final, the Frenchman beat the Ukrainian Artem Lesiuk, the Italian Andrea Carlino then the neutral Russian Ramazan Abdulaev.
“I'm happy because in all my matches, I manage to bring down (my opponent) and that's the goal of judo! I'm not a tactician, I like to take down and do combinations on the ground so I'm very happy with my day,” he said.
The other Frenchman entered in the category, Romain Valadier-Picard, won the bronze medal after a heroic fight lasting more than nine minutes against the Belgian Jorre Verstraeten.
At 21, Valadier-Picard won his first medal in an international championship at the senior level.
The two men are in the fight to win the only ticket in the category to the Paris Olympics.
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