The five lightest weight division [-48kg, -52kg, -57kg, -60kg, -66kg] will be up first on the opening day [April, 20] of the 2017 European Judo Championships in Warsaw, Poland. Amongst all participants on first day, two individuals will have the opportunity to defend their European title on the first day. Namely, Majlinda KELMENDI of Kosovo (-52kg) and Vazha MARGVELASHVILI of Georgia (-66kg).
There are 21 athletes listed in the -48kg category, which of nine are considered to be very strong contenders for the podium spots. Top seed, Milica NIKOLIC (SRB) has already show what she is capable of doing by her recent medal tally. Undoubtedly, a Senior European title is something she would aim to add to her collection. However, Nikolic will need to face a few bigger, yet, not impossible obstacles. To name a few; Olympic bronze medallist, double European Champion, CSERNOVICZKI Eva (HUN); 2016 European bronze medallist, Monica UNGUREANU (ROU); determined Ukrainian duet, Maryna CHERNIAK and Daria BILODID; and multiply IJF World Tour medallists, Shira RISHONY (ISR) and Julia FIGUEROA (ESP).
The total number of 29 athletes are listed to compete in the -52kg category, where 2016 Olympic Champion and double European Champion, Majlinda KELMENDI (KOS) is listed as top seed. Unless a no-show, there has to be almost a miracle appear to take away the chance of Kelmendi defending her title. One thing is for sure, there is no other opponent to know Kelmendi’s judo style better than her training partner, Distria KRASNIQI, who is listed as number three seed. If wonder comes to live, it will be a payback from either Andreea CHITU (ROU) or Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA). Furthermore, a very determined, hungry for success Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) is back in action. To conclude the possible podium line-up, unseeded Charline VAN SNICK (BEL) knows how to get the job done as she won the Europeans twice in a row (2015, 2016), but in the -48kg category. The only question left, can she transfer her winning skills into a new weight division?
The -57kg category had 22 athletes listed where some of the greatest names are off the list, and an unfortunate last minute injury put medal hopeful, Nekoda SMYTHE-DAVIS (GBR) off the entry list, which leaves all of those who stays on board with equal chances. In absence of 2016 European Champion, Automne PAVIA, we will see Helene RECEVEAUX surpassing for France. In order to double the joy for Kosovo on the same day, Nora GJAKOVA will need to excel to the top. Theresa STOLL (GER) shown a significant performance earlier this year during the Dusseldorf Grand Prix and if she was to carry the same style to Warsaw, we are certainly up for a great deal.
Switching the focus onto the male contenders, Orkhan SAFAROV (AZE) listed as top seed of the -60kg category where closely follows Amiran PAPINASHVILI (GEO). The pair of them would make an exciting match up in the final. Enthusiastic Francisco GARRIGOS (ESP) has the ability to stop that from happening and to break through to the final from the lower half. However, for him to do so, he will need to overcome another rather tough opponent Robert MSHVIDOBADZE (RUS).
Title holder, Vazha MARGVELASHVILI (GEO) is listed number four amongst the 32 competitors in the -66kg category. Which means, if no changes until the draw he could possible face top seed Tal FLICKER (ISR) during the semi-final stage. That is of course only if both succeed up to that stage. To put a bet on the podium line up in this weight category would be a risky gamble since most of the athletes have the potential to flourish into the final block.
London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, Csernoviczki is one of the most successful female athlete of her country. Up to date, she won two European titles in addition to her four silver and three bronze medals. At occasions, when settling for second or third place, Csernoviczki suffered a defeat from one of the most successful -48kg judoka, Alina Dumitru (ROU). The Romanian judoka won eight European titles and Csernoviczki is on route to fill the shoes of Dumitru.
“My main aim for this year is to be at my absolute best for the World Championships which will take place in Budapest. Having said that, I worked hard with faith that I can stand on the podium of the Europeans for the 10th time in a row."
Ingrid Berghmans is known as one of the most successful Belgian female judoka. She won the total number of 14 European medal, seven of which she claimed titles. She is one of the record holder female judoka in regards to her European medal tally. Throughout her carrier, she won 11 World medal. Six of those times she worn the crown and to put the icing on the cake, she became Olympic Champion in Seoul, 1988.