SPORTS

Judo star and 2004 Olympic champ strikes gold again at European games

Athens Olympics gold medalist Ilias Iliadis has made an impact again, this time at the European Judo Championships in Moscow, where the athlete won gold in the 100-kilogram category at Under-23 level last weekend. The Greek athlete defeated Lithuanian Egidijus Zilinskas in the final for his gold medal. «Ilias Iliadis was amazing throughout the competition. He’s gradually finding his rhythm ahead of the 2008 Olympics, and, overall, has enjoyed a good post-[Athens] Olympics period with a considerable number of noteworthy distinctions,» said Vangelis Soufleris, the Greek Judo Federation’s chief, who awarded Iliadis his gold medal at the Moscow event. «Generally speaking, I’m satisfied by the young athletes and team’s performance in general. Once again, Greek judo has confirmed both its arrival and a strong future,» Soufleris added. Iliadis had first emerged in the under-17 level with his career’s first gold medal in major international competition and has since remained a leading performer despite his gradual rise in the sport’s weight-related divisions. The athlete, a nationalized Greek hailing from the former Soviet Union, has since accumulated eight medals – six gold, one silver, one bronze – at various major events with the gold medal at the Athens Olympics ranking as Iliadis’s career highlight to date. For his latest gold medal, Iliadis won three bouts in preliminary competition against Andrew Burns of the United Kingdom, German Benjamin Behrla, and Russian Askhab Kostoev before overcoming his Lithuanian opponent Zilinskas in the final. Competing in the 90-kilogram category, Leonidas Iliadis ended ninth following two defeats. In women’s competition, Anastassia Drossopoulou, who competed in the 70-kilogram category, was eliminated in the second round of competition by Belgian opponent Jennifer Arq. Elpida Aslanidou, who fought in the 78-kilogram category, was ousted from the competition in the preliminary rounds by British athlete Gemma Gibbons.