21 April 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


The lightest of the women’s weight categories is the -48kg. Lead by Olympic medal hopefuls, Milica NIKOLIC (SRB) and Laura MARTINEZ ABELENDA (ESP), it’ll be a battle of a day for the European title. Without looking further down the entry at the strong new generation fighting through, the top eight are a force to be reckoned with. 

Current European Champion, Shirine BOUKLI (FRA) won’t be present, however the silver medallist from Montpellier, Catarina COSTA (POR) will be trying her luck once again to best this silver result and take the title in 2024. There is a lot of pressure given the status of 2024, but up for the challenge is Sabina GILIAZOVA (AIN), two-time bronze medallist who will be pushing for a final spot which will also help push her toward the top eight of the category, an important aspect of qualification. 

Laura MARTINEZ ABELENDA (ESP) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Though Boukli won’t be competing, we still have the other half of the French superstar team, Blandine PONT (FRA). Despite a hat-trick of Grand Slam gold medals in 2023, she narrowly missed out on a medal in the World Championships which seemingly had a great affect on her remaining performances, and this will be her first outing of 2024. Spain are doubling up their chances with Mireia LAPUERTA COMAS (ESP), but Slovenia and Italy only have one horse in the race in this category with Marusa STANGAR and Francesca MILANI, claiming the remaining seeded places. 

Two names are jumping out further down the list; Baku Grand Slam winner, Tara BABULFATH (SWE) and the Antalya Grand Slam silver medallist, Sila ERSIN (TUR). Both youngsters have been acquiring major medals in the past couple of years as cadets and juniors but have garnered more attention as senior athletes, defeating big hitters and disrupting the regular flow. 

Sila ERSIN (TUR) © Gabi Juan

Looking at the top of the entry, we already know it’ll be a fierce fight for the European title with the likes of Distria KRASNIQI (KOS), Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA), PUPP Reka (HUN) and Gefen PRIMO (ISR) in the top four spots, but looking past the top four, things are really getting rough. 

In the fifth seeding position is Ariane TORO SOLER, just one of the Spanish team who is battling through in this cycle and has picked up some serious results including two Grand Slam bronze medals in Paris and Baku, then most recently a gold in Tbilisi, meaning she hasn’t missed the podium this year. Her most notable defeat was that of Krasniqi after almost 10 minutes of fight time on her way to the Tbilisi win which pushed her to #12 in the WRL. Astride GNETO (FRA) follows, with a host of medals from her illustrious career, then Gultaj MAMMADALIYEVA (AZE) and finally Ana Viktorija PULJIZ (CRO) to round out the top eight. The latter has also landed on the senior circuit this year with Grand Slam silver and bronze in back to back events, and she is ready to perform in front of the home crowd. 

Ariane TORO SOLER (ESP) © Tamara Kulumbegashvili

Missing from the line up is Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) and Chelsie GILES (GBR), the British athlete was present in Antalya, and had the last opportunity with ABE Uta (JPN) who will now not be on the competition tatami again until the Olympic Games in Paris, in less than 100 days. 

Leading the charge of the -57kg category is history-making, Eteri LIPARTELIANI (GEO). The first Georgian woman to win a Grand Slam title, and she did it on home ground in Tbilisi – followed by a very romantic engagement! She has soared in recent times, even claiming the European Open Championships title in Kosovo, and now has sights set on the senior title in Zagreb. Looking to take that away however is the 2023 silver medallist and number two seed, Marica PERISIC (SRB), Pauline STARKE (GER) and 2022 European Champion, Timna NELSON LEVY (ISR). 

Eteri LIPARTELIANI (GEO) is on a roll. © Carlos Ferreira

Daria BILODID (UKR) is back in competition following her bronze medal in Baku, but not so present on the circuit, with Priscilla GNETO (FRA) following closely behind as well as Kaja KAJZER (SLO) and Seija BALLHAUS (GER) in the seeded places. Eyes will also be on the Paris Grand Slam winner, Faiza MOKDAR (FRA), the 22 year-old already has European titles, one as a cadet and three consecutive junior gold medals from 2018-2022. 

It is great to see that Telma MONTEIRO (POR) will be back in action, who is looking ahead to her sixth Olympic Games, but first would surely like to add to her continental collection; six gold, two silver and five bronze. The 38 year-old has continued to demonstrate her determination and is returning from rehabilitation. 


Author: Thea Cowen