27 April 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


Day three of the Senior European Judo Championships already offered up plenty of surprises, but the final block had so much left to offer. It was a disappointing preliminary round for -90kg Lasha BEKAURI (GEO) has was defeated in the quarters, leaving only the bronze medal as an option. Coming out against Murad FATIYEV (AZE), he was surprised as the Azeri athlete scored first and after a few attempts, he found his championing ways, initially looking to throw with ura nage, he then stepped in front to hook in for o soto gari, scoring ippon and earning his medal. Noel VAN T END (NED) competed in his 10th European Championships today, and after three 5th place finishes, he was ready to medal. The 2019 World Champion was in danger of losing out again, picking up two shidos heading in to golden score against Alex CRET (ROU), and the Romanian athlete simply played a smart match, Van T End issued a third shido.

Eljan HAJIYEV (AZE) took silver in both the Paris and Tbilisi Grand Slam this year, and after defeating the current Olympic Champion, he was dealt the Olympic bronze medallist and 2016 European silver medallist , TOTH Krisztian (HUN) for the gold medal. Toth is used to his opponents being taller in stature, but the strength of Hajiyev kept him locked down, the Azeri athlete swung in for a tai otoshi immediately in to the osae komi to become European Champion. This isn’t Hajiyev’s first title, also taking the junior level gold two years ago in Prague, in fact that was the last time the 21 year-old was on top of a podium.

Eljan HAJIYEV (AZE) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Alina BOEHM (GER) was unable to take a third consecutive title in the -78kg category, however she was still in with a chance of bronze against Yelyzaveta LYTVYNENKO (UKR), scoring waza ari in the first 20 seconds with a drop morote seoi nage. With a minute and a half left, both picked up two shidos, Boehm tiring and the worry was that she wouldn’t be able to defend her early score, but the two-time champion defended well and will stand on the podium for a third consecutive year. Next up, current World Champion and top seed, Inbar LANIR (ISR) took on Patricia SAMPAIO (POR) for bronze medal number two. It took only 19 seconds for Lanir to pull off her usual, countering a Sampaio’s drop seoi nage attempt by pulling her up off the ground and executing an ippon-scoring ura nage.

The final was a battle of the titans, Anna-Maria WAGNER (GER) and Audrey TCHEUMEO (FRA). Tcheumeo looking for her fifth title, and former World Champion Wagner, her first. In the first half, the aggressor was Wagner, Tcheumeo picking up two shidos. Once the contest went over in to golden score, Wagner began losing steam, leaving herself victim of some experienced ashi waza from Tcheuemo, a lovely ko uchi gari, o soto gari combination. It was an emotional win for the French athlete who won her first gold in 2011.

Audrey TCHEUMEO (FRA) © Gabi Juan

The fairytale ended for the hosts as Zlatko KUMRIC (CRO) was defeated by Tokyo Grand Slam winner, Gennaro PIRELLI (ITA), using his signature drop seoi nage to earn his first senior European Championship medal. Zelym KOTSOIEV (AZE) was going for a save, the 2023 silver medallist suffered defeat at the hands of Matvey KANIKOVSKIY (AIN) but then needed to take on Michael KORREL (NED). It was a brutal golden score endeavour but eventually, the medal went to Korea by a ko soto gake.

Unfortunately for Ilia SULAMANIDZE (GEO), for two consecutive years he was left with the silver medal. After a brilliant back and forth with Kanikovskiy, with only 40 seconds left on the clock, he was thrown with kata guruma, which scored waza ari. No matter how hard he tried, Sulamanidze was unable to get past the walls of 22 year-old Kanikovskiy who has now completed his collection; cadet, junior and senior. For many, the neutral athlete has become a fan favourite, with similar fluid style to his final opponent and reserved manner, this duo will have a long rivalry ahead, which started in 2018 as cadets, already marking seven head to heads with the record 4:3 in favour of the Georgian.

Matvey KANIKOVSKIY (AIN) © Carlos Ferreira

France were already guaranteed a medal in the +78kg category from Julia TOLOFUA, but Lea FONTAINE also wanted to add to the collection. Scoring first with uchi mata in the initial 40 seconds, Fontaine realised she would need to defend well and Rochele NUNES (POR) couldn’t find a way in. With eight seconds left on the clock, Nunes continued to pile on the pressure in hopes Fontaine would pick up a third penalty but as unable. Once again, we saw an all-Türkiye head to head between Hilal OZTURK and Kayra OZDEMIR, which resulted in a win for the latter who worked in ne waza for the hold.

Raz HERSHKO (ISR) has won two silver medals in the past two European Championships, defeated by Romane DICKO (FRA). Today, she faces off with another French athlete, Tolofua, who won the Antalya Grand Slam last month. It felt like a long time coming for Hershko who has demonstrated her capabilities on numerous occasions, then with 42 seconds left on the clock, Hershko found the opportune moment, committing with sode tsurikomi ashi, throwing her opponent Tolofua for ippon. The WRL #2 can now call herself Senior European Champion. The contest concluded with a huge celebratory embrace between the two, a true judo end.

Raz HERSHKO (ISR) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Olympic bronze medallist Tamerlan BASHAEV (AIN) was up first in the +100kg category against Jur SPIJKERS (NED). It hadn’t been an easy day for either, but coming back from a semi final loss can sometimes have a detrimental impact, however Bashaev confirmed his records with yet another win, scoring with drop morote seoi nage. Erik ABRAMOV (GER) also went through a tough preliminary round, having to defeat his team mate Losseni KONE for a place in the bronze medal contest against Marius FIZEL (SVK). Over half of the contest went by with no score or penalties for either in a well matched contest, then Fizel worked his magic in ne waza to take the win.

An explosive head to head ensued between these ballistic and – for heavyweights – acrobatic duo; Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) and Inal TASOEV (AIN). Just like Sulamanidze, Tushishvili took silver for a second consecutive year. Tasoev took the grip on the belt and instantly Tushishvili felt the threat, hooking in low with o uchi gari, only for Tasoev to lift his his leg and over roll the technique.


Author: Thea Cowen