Russia showed exactly why they are the dominant force in sambo after claiming five of the eight European Games gold medals on offer here.The Russians put themselves in a position to claim a quintet of golds after the day’s first session and delivered just that with Anna Kharitonova setting them off to a perfect start in the women’s under 52 kilogram category.
Kharitonova beat home sambist Nazakat Khalilova in the final, while the bronze medals went to Lithuania’s Ruta Aksionova and Bulgaria’s Magdalena Varbanova at the expense of Romania’s Codrina Ionescu and Armenia’s Sose Balasanyan respectively.
Russia inflicted a second defeat on the host nation in the second final of the evening as Aymergen Atkunov got the better of Islam Gasumov in the men’s under 57kg category.
Much to the delight of the locals, Armenia also missed out on a bronze medal in this category after Tigran Kirakosyan lost to Belarus’ Uladzislau Burdz.
Georgia’s Vakhtangi Chidrashvili joined Burdz in rounding off the podium, following his triumph against Romania’s Orlando Gruia in the other bronze medal match.
With two gold medals already in the bag, Russia did not show any signs of letting up and brought up their hat-trick when Yana Kostenko won the women’s under 60kg final against Bulgaria’s Kalina Stefanova.
Kostenko had earlier claimed a semi-final victory against Belarus’ Katsiaryna Prakapenka, who went on to win bronze ahead of Azerbaijan’s Shahane Huseynova.
Romania’s Daniela Hondiu also earned a bronze, overcoming Spain’s Yaiza Jimenez Lopez.
By the time the men’s under 90kg category final had come round, Belarus had won two gold medals themselves and were looking to make it three when Andrei Kazusionak went up against Russia’s Alsim Chernoskulov.
It did not materialise, though, as Chernoskulov secured victory with a minimum advantage to increase Russia’s gold medal tally to four.
There were no questions about where the loyalties of the Azerbaijani fans lay in the bronze medal matches with one of their own, Kanan Gasimov, in action against Georgia’s Davit Karbelashvili, and Lithuania’s Radvilas Matukas facing an Armenian, Ashot Danielyan.
Gasimov lost to their disappointment, but they were able to take consolation from Matukas’ win against Danielyan.
After Serbia had joined the list of gold medal-winning nations with success in the women’s under 68kg, the final weight category final of the evening, the over 100kg, pitted Russia’s Artem Osipenko against Azerbaijan’s Vasif Safarbayov.
The competitors may have been different but the outcome was still the same as Osipenko recorded a total victory for Russia’s fifth gold medal.
Belarus’ Yury Rybak and Ukraine’s Razmik Tonoyan outdid Romania’s Radu Malcic and Macedonia’s Bajro Mashovikj respectively in the over 100kg bronze medal matches.
Belarus' two gold medals came via Stsiapan Papou and Tatsiana Matsko in the men’s under 74kg and women’s under 64kg, with Azerbaijan’s Amil Gasimov and Ukraine’s Olena Sayko having to settle for silver medals.
The men’s under 74kg bronze medals were won by Georgia’s Kakha Mamulashvili and Russia’s Azamat Sidakov, while in the women’s under 64kg, France’s Sarah Loko and Russia’s Anna Shcherbakova came away with them.
Meanwhile, Serbia’s sole gold medal was won by Ivana Jandric, who condemned Belarus’ Volha Namazava to second place in the women’s under 68kg.
The bronze medals went to France’s Celine Conde and Russia’s Olga Zakhartsova.