25 April 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


The -48kg category opened the final block on day one of the Senior European Judo Championships 2024, and after a beautiful win for Tamar MALCA (ISR), which gives the 23 year-old a continental medal at every level; cadet, junior and U23 included. Malca has been striving for consistency but has been struggling, nevertheless, she won the medal when it mattered. In the next bronze medal contest, Catarina COSTA (POR) was once again in a continental championship contest. In 2022 and 2023, she took the silver medal, but today it wasn’t guaranteed. Impressively, Costa managed to counter an attack from Milica NIKOLIC (SRB) to score a bronze medal winning waza ari.

For the past two editions, the gold medal has gone to France’s Shirine BOUKLI, but today, another Frenchwoman stood to take the title: Blandine PONT. In her way was 19 year-old Junior World bronze medallist, Kristina DUDINA (AIN). Dudina’s semi final was a 10 second wonder against Malca, scoring ippon with tani otoshi, which appeared to be her technique of the day, going on to score against Pont twice to take the European title!

Kristina DUDINA (AIN) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Cedric REVOL (FRA) wasted little time, taking his -60kg bronze medal in just over a minute against Artem LESIUK (UKR) with a well-timed o soto gari. Leaving the tatami he celebrated with his family and beautiful child, a second bronze medal for Revol in a European Championships. Azerbaijan had potential for two medals, but the second bronze medal was awarded instead to Türkiye’s Salih YILDIZ as Turan BAYRAMOV was issued hansoku make for throwing against the elbow.

Now for the big one. Current World Champion and two-time European Champion Francisco GARRIGOS (ESP) has come to take back the European title. Balabay AGHAYEV (AZE) had a tough contest ahead, and despite his best efforts, Garrigos managed the contest and found his strength in ne waza, an iron-clad osae komi earning him a third European title and seventh senior continental medal.

Francisco GARRIGOS (ESP) © Carlos Ferreira

Aydan VALIYEVA (AZE) had an incredible day in the -52kg category, making it to her first senior continental medal contest, however she was faced with the experienced, WRL #7, PUPP Reka (HUN), who defeated Valiyeva with o soto gari for the bronze. Next up was Ariane TORO SOLER (ESP) who has been swinging from one success to another in recent months, against Sofia ASVESTA (CYP). An initial score came from Toro, but clinching the win and her first senior European medal was quick ashi waza, a ko uchi gari.

It was an Olympic battle in the -52kg final, Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) against Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA). Unfortunately for Giuffrida, she made the mistake of coming out of a seoi nage attempt which Krasniqi anticipated in golden score, countering with some ashi waza. It was a hard fought contest and Giuffrida was pressured in to this given the two shidos against her name, but this was a big win for Krasniqi, her first title in this weight category, she previously took a silver medal at -52kg in 2018 before moving down to -48kg.

Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Another Hungarian-Spanish bronze medal contest took place in the -66kg category, but this time between PONGRACZ Bence and Alberto GAITERO MARTIN. Pongracz had a strong approach to the bronze contest, defeating Strahinja BUNCIC (SRB) and 2022 European Champion, Bogdan IADOV (UKR), and then a strong o soto was his key to the medal, Hungary’s second on day one. Next up was an all-Italian battle, between Elios MANZI and Matteo PIRAS. The win eventually was taken by Manzi, narrowing the gap between the two in the world ranking, but still not passing his opponent.

The final of the -66kg was a battle of the clinches between Olympic silver medallist, Vazha MARGVELASHVILI (GEO) and the rising star of Türkiye, 2022 Junior European Champion, Muhammed DEMIREL. The initial score came from Demirel, countering the uchi mata attempt from his Georgian opponent, but twice Margvelashvili was able to best Demirel, again in this clinch situation, mastered by the Georgian team. Incredibly, Margvelashvili took his first title eight years ago in Kazan.

Vazha MARGVELASHVILI (GEO) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

In the final category on day one, we saw the -57kg category women steal the show. In an exhausting contest, Timna NELSON LEVY (ISR) and Pauline STARKE (GER) went in to golden score, and after a further 2:26, Nelson Levy managed to score to take her fourth continental medal. Next up was the top seed, Eteri LIPARTELIANI (GEO) against the seemingly fan-favourite, Marica PERISIC (SRB), so many club and national fans filling the Arena Zagreb today. Neither of these athletes are afraid of a good fight and it was physical from the first hajime. On this occasion, Perisic managed the contest better in the first two minutes, forcing two shidos on Liparteliani. Only 7 seconds in to golden score, Liparteliani managed to counter Perisic for the win.

Concluding day one were Kaja KAJZER (SLO) and Daria BILODID (UKR). The latter has a list of accolades, but at -48kg, and now she is regaining herself in the heavier weight. It hasn’t been an easy road for her, and she has been relatively absent on the IJF World Tour, but her performance today demonstrated that her champion spirit is still alive and well. Kajzer gave her a tremendous contest, and had the previous win in the records, however Bilodid controlled the contest, and the Slovenian athlete picked up three shidos, and so Bilodid took her first title in the -57kg category.

Daria BILODID (UKR) © Carlos Ferreira


Author: Thea Cowen