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JCW judoka Helene Riegert: “I enjoyed every moment”

The European Youth Olympic Festival in Slovakia was a fantastic experience for Helene Riegert from the Judo Club Wiesbaden. The next highlight is the World Cup

Memories that make an impression: Helene Riegert from the Judo Club Wiesbaden enjoyed her participation in the European Youth Olympic Festival – and after an annoying carelessness in the individual team competition, she really turned it up. Photo: Carlos Ferreira/EJU

WIESBADEN – Days after her return, Helene Riegert is still raving about the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia. The best young athletes in Europe met there at the end of July. Helene is one of them and represented the German colors in judo in the class up to 52 kilograms. An experience that, looking back, was breathtaking for her. Young people up to the age of 19 from 50 nations competed in a total of ten sports. “It was incredibly impressive. Now that I’ve experienced that, I want to be at the real Olympic Games,” says the 16-year-old from the Judo Club Wiesbaden.

In the team competition a “Now more than ever mood”

It all began with the nomination by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), followed by the accreditation, the outfitting, the journey and accommodation of the German delegation together with numerous other nations, and the opening ceremony. “We marched in with a flag, all dressed the same, throughout the event. That was cool. You always had the feeling of being part of the Germany team and felt connected,” reports Helene. The approximately 5,000 young athletes were housed together in student accommodation, among other things. There was also a lively exchange between the nations. “We had a lot to do with each other, exchanged small pins and I ended up sharing my T-shirt with a Swede,” says the 16-year-old. In the evenings, the athletes liked to sit together over a game of cards or chat. If the schedule allowed, Helene attended other competitions. For example, she was doing gymnastics. “The halls and sports facilities were great. Everyone took care of us. It was impressive how everything was set up. There was music everywhere,” says the judoka.

In terms of sport, on the other hand, things didn’t go so well in the individual. A carelessness cost her victory in the second round. She dropped out much earlier than expected. “That was totally unnecessary. I had my grip, but I didn’t dare to pull through my throw. It just went silly and was very annoying. There was a lot more to it,” says the JCW athlete. In the team competition that followed, Helene showed what would have been possible, where she was unbeatable. Even the singles winner, Laura Antonia Gomez from Spain, had no chance. Without further ado, she put Helene on her back and won with Ippon. The French Faustine Wallon, against whom she had lost in the European Cup earlier in the year, forced Helene to give up. Florina Badiceanu from Romania, who already competes in women’s World Cups and against whom Helene lost in her first European Cup, defeated her after just 30 seconds.

For the team, it was ultimately only enough for fifth place due to a few unfavorable constellations in the golden score against France and Georgia (in the event of a tie, a draw will be made to determine who will fight the decisive battle for the team). “I enjoyed every moment. The team competition was my own final. I was in a really good mood after the individual and was highly motivated,” says Helene. Preparations for the next highlight start on Monday. In mid-August she will fight for the last time in her weight class at the Junior World Championships in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina). “Everything is possible there, every opponent is beatable,” says the Saulheim native. “I just have to make the right decisions and give it my all. I’m really looking forward to the World Cup.”

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