Casse became European champion in 2019, in the past two years he had to be satisfied with a bronze (Prague 2020) and a silver (Lisbon 2021) medal. The 25-year-old from Antwerp is the current number one in the world in his weight class.
Casse’s great rival Tato Grigalashvili was waiting in the European Championship final. The Georgian is the number two in the world and lost the World Cup final and the bronze medal at the Games in Tokyo last year from our compatriot. But in Sofia, Grigalashvili took revenge on Casse. The Georgian knocked our compatriot with an ippon.
In his semi-final against the much lower seeded Ukrainian Hievorh Manukian, Casse also got away with a waza-ari early in the Golden Score, but VAR overturned that decision. Then our compatriot finished it himself with an ippon (after a strangulation).
In the earlier rounds, Casse had dealt with Spaniard Alfonso Urquiza Solana, Slovakian Alex Barto and Briton Stuart McWat. Each time, Casse won the Golden Score after his exhausted opponent received three penalties for passive fighting.
Chouchi also takes a medal
With Sami Chouchi (IJF 6) a second Belgian had a chance to win a medal in the minus 81 kg. Chouchi had lost his quarterfinal to Ukrainian Hievorh Manukian and missed a semifinal against Matthias Casse. However, the number six in the world won in the first second chance round against Spaniard Alfonso Urquiza Solana (IJF 33) and was allowed to compete for bronze against Ukrainian Sergii Krivchach. An aggressive Chouchi quickly scored a waza-ari thanks to a clever throw and kept the rest of the game under control with relative ease.
For Chouchi it is the second European Championship medal in his career, after earlier silver in 2018. The 29-year-old from Brussels missed the Olympic Games because Belgium was only allowed to send one man in the category up to 81 kilograms to Tokyo and Matthias Casse the number one of the world was.
For Belgium it is already the third bronze medal at this European Championship. On Friday Jorre Verstraeten (-60kg) and Mina Libeer (-57kg) also won bronze.