24 June 2024


European Judo Championships Cadets Sofia 2024


The upcoming Cadet European Championships 2024 will see 513 athletes from 44 nations compete over the three day individual event within 16 categories. Bulgaria has already seen the senior athletes earn their European titles, and now we return to the big names of the future, who will earn their stripes in Sofia?

Day one will see the -48kg and -60kg contend for the gold medal, and in addition at cadet level we have the -40kg, -44kg, -50kg and -55kg weight categories.

In the lightest young men’s weights, Azerbaijan have doubled up their chances in the -50kg with two strong contenders in the top four; Bahadir FEYZULLAYEV (#3 WRL) and Mahammadali HUSIYEV (#15 WRL). Sandwiched between the pair is Axel CUQ (FRA), who incidentally is the younger brother of 2019 Cadet European Champion, Pauline CUQ. Axel has found himself on the podium twice this year, and most recently winning the Marrakech Cadet African Cup. Ivo GALENKOV (BUL) takes the #3 spot this week and will have the support of the home crowd.

Ivo GALENKOV (BUL) © Erika Zucchiatti

As we move to the lightest of the young women’s, the -40kg boasts that the top four seeds are within the top ten of the world ranking list; Aiora MARTIN CARRICHES (#3/ESP), Mathilde AUREL (#4/FRA), Sandra WALENDZIK (#5/POL) and Khadija ABDULLAYEVA (#9/AZE). Martin has never missed the podium in 2024, and with this extra experience gained, she is in a good position to better her fifth place finishes in the 2023 Cadet European and World Championships.

Gal BLAZIC (SLO) will lead the charge in the -55kg category, and after a bronze medal win in the Cadet European Championships in Odivelas 2023, his eyes will be set firmly on the final. Standing in his way however are Nihad MAMISHOV (AZE), the current Cadet World Champion of the -50kg category. In 2024 Mamishov has secured gold medal wins in Antalya and Goygol, and is hoping to make it a hat-trick and become the European Champion. KUNYIK Botond (HUN) falls in as the number three seed, and has proven his ability to make it to the final with a silver in Samorin, and the top four is rounded off by Khazar HEYDAROV (UKR). This name is synonymous with the current -73kg World Champion, but Khazar is wanting to be recognised too, and with a gold in Teplice and Bielsko Biala this year, it is certainly possible.

Nihad MAMISHOV (AZE) © Carlos Ferreira

There is strength in the Spanish delegation, as Irene GARCIA SANCHEZ and Africa PUENTE LOPEZ are also within the top ten of the WRL and will fill up spots two and three in the -44kg category, behind the Cadet European and World Champion of the -40kg category, Patricia TOMANKOVA (SVK). The last of the top four will be Yuval GABAY (ISR), winner of the Teplice Cadet Cup this year.

As Azerbaijan and Spain hold space in the -50kg and -44kg categories, Israel have upped their chances of success in -60kg with top seed Izhak ASHPIZ and WRL #5, Shalev COHEN in as seed four. Ashpiz dominated in the Cadet World Championships and will likely defend his title this year, but also took bronze at the Europeans. For Cohen however, this will be his first shot at a European title, and rightly so with two gold this year already in Samorin and Teplice. The pair will be rivalled by WRL #3, Jakub KUROWSKI (POL) and Velijko VARNICIC (SRB). Kurowski has been on a medalling streak since October last year, taking home six in total, two of which gold.

Gold medallist of the Berlin Cadet Cup 2024, Lalla-Dounia LAHRIFI (FRA) heads the -48kg category, closely followed by Elif KILIC (TUR), the top two have never before met in competition, however if both manage to stay on top of their respective sides of the draw, it could make for an interesting final. Positions #3 and #4 in the seeding are taken by Poland’s Barbara TWAROWSKA (POL) and Charlotte NETTESHEIM (GER).

Lalla-Dounia LAHRIFI (FRA) © Gabi Juan


Author: Thea Cowen