Turkey and Greece Take the Lion’s Share of Balkan Gold

The newly-crowned Junior team gold medallists from Greece at the FEI Balkan Jumping Championships 2015 in Halkidiki, Sithonia, Greece last weekend. (L to R) Alexandros Kokkonis, Nikolina Makarona, Ioli Mytilineou and Konstantinos Papathanassiou. (FEI/Alexis Vassilopoulos)

Halkidiki, Sithonia (GRE), 9 September 2014 – There was an air of celebration about the FEI Balkan Jumping Championships 2015 where Greece and Turkey were dominant and Bulgaria also got into the gold-medal-winner’s circle last weekend. Staged at Porto Carras in Halkidiki, Greece, the four-day fixture attracted a strong entry of athletes from seven nations who battled it out for team and individual titles in Senior, Young Rider, Junior and Children’s competition.

The flags of Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Madedonia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey flew high, and while Turkish and Greek athletes dominated, Romania took bronze in four of the eight Championship competitions, while Croatia claimed Junior team and individual silver.


At the 2014 Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, there was a significant swing away from the traditional dominance of the Greeks and Turks, but normal order was restored this time around and, once again, Turkey earned the Senior team title along with individual gold and silver.

The Senior action began with victory for the Greek partnership of Elina Dendrinou and Carett in the opening Speed event. But Turkey’s Yusuf Cem Kayacan was only 0.6 seconds behind when runner-up with Abner, and this pair would go on to top the individual podium.

The Turkish foursome of Oktay Sezek (SIEC Zappa), Hulki Karagulle (Skara Glen’s Cascador), Can Ince (SIEC Caro Ass) and Sencer Horasan (Duvkalle) pipped the Greek team that included Dendrinou, Monika Martini (Amadu), Anastasios Raisis (Hermes van de Pereboom) and Grigoris Voglis (Quelly Briquedalle). But the Turks were well behind when counting 12 faults at the end the first round, when Romania’s Ionel Bucur (Bangkok Girl), Razvan (Quickborn), Luca Ruxandariu (Bamboo) and Norbert Schuman (Belle de Jour) held the lead on a five-fault scoreline.

The Romanians lost their grip in round two, however, when adding 12 more to their tally while the Greeks matched their first-round result of eight faults to leave them on total of 16. It was three great second-round clears, from Sezek, Karagülle and Ince that clinched it for Turkey who added nothing to their first-round effort.

The veteran Karagülle is no stranger to success in these Championships. “I won individual gold in the Junior category back in 1979 in Athens when I was 16 years old, and I participated in many Balkan Championships since then and won several team and individual medals. I’m an amateur rider and I’m very happy to be able to still compete and win the Senior individual silver medal today. Porto Carras is an excellent place to organize a show; we all competed also in the CSI last week and enjoyed sun, sea and show jumping. Many thanks to the organisers. I hope to come back here again in the future,” said the 52-year-old rider.

And he put the icing on the cake when lining up behind fellow-countryman Kayacan on the individual podium while Romania’s Ionel Bucur took the bronze. Newly-crowned individual champion, 22-year-old Kayacan, said, “This is my first time representing my country at senior level and it’s a great feeling to claim individual gold. It’s impossible not to be happy! Abner is such a fantastic horse – I’ve been riding him for three years now and he gives me one-hundred-percent every time we compete!”

Young Riders

Greece also got off to the perfect start in the Young Riders division when Anna-Maria Papageorgiou and LC Waikiki Akino pinned Talya Afyoneri and Wervelwind into second spot and another of the Turkish contingent, Ece Kitis with Cassitano, into third in the first individual qualifier. But the Turks had it all their own way once again in the team competition in which Greece took the silver and Romania the bronze.

And their victory was all the more creditable because Turkey fielded only three riders, Afyoneri and Kitis joined by Necdet Kaan Karagülle (Campari) to post a 16-fault score first time out, but producing a clear-cut win when adding only four more at their second attempt.

Papageorgiou teamed up with Antigoni Tsafara (Intrepid Leonardo), Iro Kaltsidou (Eagano VH Dingenshof) and Aikaterini Laskaridis (Charlotte) to clinch silver despite early elimination for Kaltsidou while Romania’s Stefan Leonte (Darius), Razvan Andrei Gheorghe (Sziszi), Claudiu Floristean (Wellcome) and Cristian Ceausescu (Teodor) filled the third step of the team medal podium.

The form held through to the closing stages when Afyoneri and Karagülle took individual gold and silver for Turkey ahead of bronze medallist Papageorgiu from Greece. It wasn’t the first Balkan individual title for 19-year-old Afyoneri, but it was a very special one. “Winning is a great feeling… I am so happy to be the Young Riders champion, both in team and individual! And also, being the champion for the second time after three years make me, my family and my trainer so proud! It is difficult to explain our feelings. I couldn’t do this without them and of course without my horse, Wervelwind. Being a part of this kind of an organisation is fantastic. Thanks to everyone who has shared all this with us,” she said.


Bulgaria’s Izov Ventsislav and Exop threw down the gauntlet with a brilliant win in the opening Junior Speed event and never looked back. From a starting field of 33, the pair scorched home in 73.42 seconds to pin Georgios Velonis and Vivendi Colt and Nikolina Makarona and Arce de Triomphe from Greece into second and third places, and then came out to jump double-clear in the team competition before taking the individual Junior title.

A total of six nations lined out for the team event in which the Greeks took early control with a zero first-round score and clearly clinched gold when adding only four faults second time out. Ioli Mytilineou and Ascot jumped double-clear for the winning side, and with Makarona, Alexandros Kokkonis (Oscar de Semilly) and Konstantinos Evangelos Papathanassiou (Secret Prince) also producing one clear performance apiece it was a polished performance from the new champions.

Croatia’s Dunja Al Jamal (Gemilio LCS), Josip Gugic (Coeur de Croatie), Nina Madirazza (Calysta) and Laura Dragicevic (Aidora I Ritz) were just two fences adrift in silver medal spot, however, and finished well ahead of the bronze medallists from Romania whose score totalled 28. Daria Peev (Guitendra), Francesca Moldovan (Quinara), Alexandra Miladin Bradisteanu (Castaway) and Marco Alessandro Alfieri (Hermine) each played a vital role for the Romanian team during the competition and helped keep Turkey off the podium despite second-round clears for Sevim Defne (Zinedine D) and Serener Bagriacik (Website Ter Velden).

Another double-clear in the Junior Grand Prix left Bulgaria’s Izov in fifth place in the competition but with the individual Junior gold medal in his grasp, and it was Croatia’s Nina Madirzaa and Calysta who lined up in silver medal position here ahead of the Greek partnership of Grand Prix winners Nikolina Makarona and Arc de Triomphe who earned the bronze.


In the Children’s category, Turkey’s Osman Ata Vanli won the opening Speed competition with Demi Dostara ahead of Romania’s Alexandru Ghita and Paula in second and Aikaterini-Ellas Lemonidi (Quetcha de Chenee) and Anna-Sophia Danalis (Con Top) in third and fourth for Greece. That early result would prove pivotal for Danalis who emerged to take the individual title four days later.

There were four nations in contention in the Children’s team competition, and the Greeks proved untouchable when posting a zero score in both rounds. Both Danalis and Selini Popp (Saigon) jumped double-clear, and when Ioanna-Maria Tsochas was foot-perfect first time out with Brilliant Go and Paola Martin and Cobbydor were likewise in the second round it was a done deal.

It took a third-round jump-off to decide silver and bronze here, and Turkey’s Sevval Er (Comtess), Renk Asik (Escenta), Buse Buke (Rienne va Plus) and Melis Celebioglu (Wilande) came off best in the two-team tussle when adding just eight more faults to their original 16-fault scoreline. Vanesa Atanasova (Colorado), Anna Angelova (Charizma), Belmin Arifova (Zalina H) and Geni Mihova (Finesse) stood on the third step of the podium for Bulgaria when obliged to add 16 more to their 16-fault tally.

And Greece took two of the three individual Children’s medals when Danalis emerged to take gold and Popp claimed the bronze while Turkey’s Osman Ata Vanli was Children’s individual silver medallist.

Children’s champion, Danalis, put the 2015 event into perspective. “This year’s Balkan Championships in Porto Carras were amazing for me. The Greek children’s team won the gold and I also won the individual gold. The Balkan Championships are a very nice opportunity for the countries in the Balkan region to get together and compete. The Championships really help those who want to practice for European competitions. It’s an amazing experience that will never be forgotten!” said the talented 14-year-old.


FEI Balkan Senior Team Jumping Championship: GOLD – Turkey 12 faults: SIEC Zappa WH (Oktay Sezek) 8/0, Skara Glen’s Cascador (Hulki Karagulle) 0/0, SIEC Caro Ass (Can Ince) 21/0, Duvkalle (Sencer Horasan) 4/4; SILVER – Greece 16 faults: Amadu (Monika Martini) 0/8. Hermes van de Pereboom) Anastasios Raisis) 8/8, Quelly Briquedalle (Grigoris Boglis) 4/0, Carett (Elina Dendrinou) 4/0; BRONZE – Romania 17 faults: Bangkok Girl (Ionel Bucur) 1/4, Quickborn (Razvan Bozan) 8/4, Bamboo (Luca Ruxandariu) 0/12, Belle De Jour (Norbert Schuman) 4/4.

FEI Balkan Senior Individual Jumping Championship: GOLD – Abnar (Yusuf Cem Kayacan) TUR 0.03; SILVER – Skara Glen’s Cascador (Hulki Karagulle) TUR 4.57; BRONZE – Bangkok Girl (Ionel Bucur) ROU 9.26.

FEI Balkan Young Riders Team Jumping Championship: GOLD – Turkey 20 faults: Wervelwind (Talya Afyoneri) 8/0, Cassitano (Ece Kitis) 0/4, Campari (Necdet Kaan Karagulle) 8/0; SILVER – Greece 60 faults: LC Waikiki Akino (Anna-Maria Papageorgiou) 0/8, Intrepid Leonardo (Antigoni Tsafara) 24/20, Eagano VH Dingenshof (Iro Kaltsidou) Elim/DNS, Charlotte (Aikaterini Laskaridis) 4/4; BRONZE- Romania 84 faults: Darius (Stefan Leonte) 16/12, Sziszi (Razvan Andrei Gheorghe) 20/16, Wellcome (Claudiu Floristean) 16/12, Teodor (Cristian Ceausescu) 16/12.

FEI Balkan Young Riders Individual Jumping Championship: GOLD – Wervelwind (Talya Afyoneri) TUR 12.37; SILVER – Campari (Necdet Kaan Karagulle) TUR 18.31; BRONZE – LC Waikiki Akino (Anna-Maria Papageorgiou) GRE 20.00.

FEI Balkan Junior Team Jumping Championship: GOLD – Greece 4 faults: Ascot (Ioli Mytilineou) 0/0, Oscar de Semilly (Alexandros Kokkonis) 0/4, Arc de Triomphe (Nikolina Makarona) 0/4, Secret Prince (Konstantinos Evangelos Papathanassiou) 4/0; SILVER – Croatia 12 faults: Gemilio LCS (Dunja Al Jamal) 8/4, Coeur de Croatie (Jospi Gugic) 4/4, Calysta (Nina Madirazza) 0/0, Aidora I Ritz (Laura Dragicevic) 0/4; BRONZE – Romania 28 faults: Guitendra (Daria Peev) 8/20, Quinara (Francesca moldovan) 8/8, Castaway (Alexandra Mladin Bradisteanu) 4/4, Hermine (Marco Alessandro Alfieri) 4/0.

FEI Balkan Junior Individual Jumping Championship: GOLD – Ezop (Ventsislav Izov) BUL ; SILVER – Calysta (Nina Madirazza) CRO ; BRONZE – Arc de Triomphe (Nikolina Makarona).

FEI Balkan Children’s Team Jumping Championship: GOLD – Greece 0 faults: Saigon (Selini Popp) 0/0, Brilliant Go (Ioanna-Maria Tsochas) 0/4, Con Top (Anna-Sophia Danalis) 0/0, Cobbydor (Paola Martini) 4/0; SILVER – Turkey 16/8 faults in jump-off: Comtess 9ER Sevval) 8/0/4, Escenta (Renk Asik) 8/8/8, Rienne va Plus (Buse Buke) 4/0/4, Wilande (Melis Celebioglu) 4/0/0; BRONZE – Bulgaria 16/16 faults in jump-off: Colorado (Vanesa Atanasova) 0/4/4, Charizma (Anna Angelova) 4/12/12, Zalina H (Belmin Arifova) 4/0/0, Finesse (Geni Mihova) 4/4/12.

FEI Balkan Children’s Individual Jumping Championship: GOLD – Con Top (Anna-Sophia Danalis) GRE; SILVER – Demi Dostara (Osman Ata Vanli) TUR; BRONZE – Saigon (Selini Popp) GRE.

By Louise Parkes

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Grania Willis
Director Media Relations
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Ruth Grundy
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Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
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