Florin Bologa (ROU) won the first gold medal of the inaugural European Para Championships in Rotterdam as he triumphed in the men’s Para judo J1 -73kg event on Tuesday.
The Romanian judoka beat Germany’s Lennart Sass in the first final of the day to earn the first-ever European Para Championships medal.
“It’s a great feeling”, Bologa said after his victory. “The atmosphere here is amazing, the competition is being organized very well and it is very important to have such a competition. Every Paralympic athlete and Para judo athlete deserves a (European) multi-sports competition like the able-bodied athletes do.”
Bologa, who took Paralympic bronze at both the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Games, said the win gave him confidence towards next years’ Paralympics in Paris. “Of course it does”, he laughed while admitting that Paris 2024 is his main goal. “The aim at the Paralympics is to get a medal. Of course I would like to be a Paralympic champion, but for me any medal would be great for sure.”
Silver medallist Sass said he is up for the challenge with Bologa in the future. “I respect him, he is an experienced judoka, he has a special technique, he is very powerful in blind judo”, Sass said about Bologa. “I only started my career last year. But I follow him close as you have seen in the final. Maybe the next fight will be a win against him”, Sass said.
The first edition of the European Para Championships got underway after the Opening Ceremony on Monday. Competitions started on Tuesday, with seven sets of medals at stake in para judo.