3 June 2022


European Judo Championships Veterans Heraklion 2022


Yesterday in the M5 -66kg category, Krzysztof CZUPRYNA (POL) took his second Veteran European title, the first came in 2017. A combination of fighting spirit and mastered technique from a 35-year career allowed him to claim the gold medal on the first day of competition. 

We congratulated him on Czupryna on his difficult win, 

Thank you very much it was very hard to be here but we are all just so happy to be here now that covid is not stopping us and that the tournaments begin again. It is so important for us that we can get together and to meet again. The scores and medals are important, but first and foremost is friendship and meeting, this is the most important for us. 

Though he was happy to take the medal and rejoin the veteran circuit with so many others, many were not able to be here. 

The celebration is nice but still it is a shame that not everyone can be here, the numbers are lower than in the past, understandably there are costs and people have been affected by the economy, so that is a shame for us, nevertheless it is good to be here. 

M5 -66kg podium. © Gabi Juan

Aside from his judo, Dr Czupryna is also a physiotherapist and academic teacher, teaching health sciences, judo is in fact his second life which allows him to put his profession to good use. However this also begs the question, why does he continue to compete when he knows the risks that are aligned with the affect judo has on the body?  

You know I’m a veteran so I have many problems with my joints so I think thanks to my knowledge I can handle the judo better, but year after year it gets harder but the good feeling I get from judo is bigger than the pain. 

The competition for every sportsman, every judoka is the best way to know your level. Even in very small competitions or tournaments, for me I have been competing for 35 years in judo, it is difficult to take part in such a big tournament if I haven’t been in the small ones. This has has been a problem through covid, not having any tournaments and so it made me nervous here. Before covid, we had been on the road, competing and have that feeling, if you don’t have it, it impacts your mind. This is an important tournament but I didn’t really know my level and it made me more nervous than usual. 

Evidently these nerves spurred him on to success, and he was happy to share the podium with others who had been equally as eager to get back to competition. 

Czupryna ands Dankanych in the M5 -66kg final. © Gabi Juan

In the final he faced Mykola DANKANYCH of Ukraine, and despite a strong attempt, the contest was won by Czupryna. It wasn’t all about the win however for Dankanych. He tells us, 

I want to say thank you to the Hellenic Judo Federation for this event, to be here and with my judo family means so much. I am a coach for younger athletes where I live in Ukraine which is near the Hungarian border but to train myself I needed to travel 250km. It has been difficult but I am very happy to be here. 

It was clear following the medal ceremonies how relieved the competitors were to be back to competition and with their fellow entrants from Europe, finally after a long break.

Author: Thea Cowen