“It’s a perfect place for a prime event. We are more than happy to be here, this includes me, being a German citizen”, emphasised EJU Senior Vice President Otto KNEITINGER. The draw at the “House of Sports” in POTSDAM (GER), on the grounds of the Olympic Training Centre, a stone’s throw from the competition hall, marked the official start of the EUROPEAN JUDO CHAMPIONSHIPS UNDER-23 in the MBS Arena, which begin on Friday (preliminary round from 10 a.m.). 310 judoka from 37 nations have entered.
“We have been waiting exactly 20 years for this moment, since the last European Judo Championships in Germany, more precisely in Düsseldorf, in 2003. We stepped in a year ago when it became clear that the U-23 European Championships would not be able to take place in Russia as planned,” said Frank DÖTSCH, Chief Executive Officer of the German Judo Federation.
“Potsdam is a sports city in general and a judo city in particular, around 60 judoka train at the Olympic Centre, the base has produced 130 Olympic medals in 17 sports since it was founded in 1990, including no fewer than 73 Olympic champions. Not bad for 185,000 inhabitants,” underlined Mayor Mike Schubert. “I am a big Judo fan myself, because of my son Moritz. He is 13 years old, a judoka and attends the local sports school. He is lively – so he can really let off steam in practising Judo.”
The German Judo Federation has done everything it can to ensure that the hall (capacity: 2,800) will be as full as possible on all days. “Friday might be a challenge – we’ve invited all the schools in the area. At the weekend, we hope that the hall will be full in any case. We have a defending champion in Samira BOCK and a bronze medallist in Friederike STOLZE (both – 70 kg). With 18 starters, 4 or 5 medals should be a realistic target. A dream come true would be a gold medal in the mixed team competition on Sunday,” hopes Frank Dötsch.
“We lost very clearly to Turkey in the final last year and won the silver medal. In front of our own fans, family and friends, at home- we really want to win gold this time,” says Friederike Stolze. “Since 1991, since the opening of the Olympic Centre, we’ve never had an international Judo event in Potsdam. We’re all really looking forward to it. And of course we’re hoping for a team medal. The team has a lot of potential – we assume that some of them will make the 2028 Olympic team for Los Angeles,” affirms national coach Mario SCHENDEL. He was born in Potsdam. “For me, this Under-23 European Championships is my career highlight for the time being. I hope that our athletes can have fun and enjoy the atmosphere despite all the pressure of expectation.”
Author: EJU Media