Obviously, all eyes were focused on world and Olympic champion, Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA) in the -63kg. Unfortunately for her, she was eliminated early and instead it was the world silver medallist, Andreja Leski (SLO), and last year's bronze medallist, Gili Sharir (ISR), who faced in the final. After a close fought contest, Leski awaited the final minute to score waza-ari with a sharp ko-soto-gari. Agbegnenou finished at the seventh place after she was defeated in the repechage.
Leski declared, "I haven’t been on the top yet but now I am the top of Europe! I must say I was ready for Clarisse today, but when I saw the draw, it wasn’t so unexpected. We didn’t have much of a break between the semi-final and the final, but I think I felt already warmed up and it was good for me."
In the -73kg final contest, the WRL #1 and defending European champion, Hidat Heydarov (AZE), who was obviously the favorite of the day, faced Salvador Cases Roca (ESP). The Azeri judoka continued on his quest to become a triple European champion at senior level, after his success in 2017 and 2022. Despite a strong support from the crowd, with a large Spanish following, Heydarov proved to he the best and confirmed his ranking. He scored first with his kata-guruma, transitioning directly in to osae-komi.
After Agbegnenou's desillusion, the only hope for a French gold medal was in Marie Eve Gahie's hands in -70kg weight division. She entered the final after a series of unstoppable wins. Totally concentrated, Gahie was immediately in action and the final was no different from the previous contests. Within the first 15 seconds, she took a strong lead with a first o-soto-gari, scoring waza-ari. This seemed to wake up Madina Taimazova (AIN) but probably a little too late. Gahie kept the control of the match, scoring again off the grip with another huge o-soto-gari to take an emotional win. Since her world title, Gahie has had some difficulties to stay on top, but today she definitely proved that she will be difficult to beat in Paris next year if she stays in the same form.
Gahie said, "I believed that in each fight I was going to be consistent. I want to win every time I fight of course, but I really wanted to throw. I knew if I was precise with my kumikata then it would be easier to throw."
In the last final of the day, the crowd came alive once again, this time supporting the Georgian star, double world champion, double IJF Masters champion and double European champion, Tato Grigalashvili. But 2021 European champion, Vedat Albayrak (TUR) did not hold back. As the clocked ticked away, both athletes had two shido to their name, then a stunning uchi-mata came from nowhere and scored waza-ari for the Turkish athlete, astounding the crowds to take his second European title.
Albayrak explained, "I am really happy with my medal, I had a great day but I think the more important thing for me is that my opponents were the best ones, the final was very tough."