1 June 2024


Graz Junior European Cup 2024


The first day of competition at the JUNIOR EUROPEAN CUP in GRAZ (AUT) brought a number of surprises. Not a single top-seeded athlete managed to win any titles. From a European perspective, Joni GEILEN (-63/NED/3) and Tanja GRÜNEWALD (-70/GER/5) made the headlines.
The 19-year-old Dutchwoman had lost in the finals at the European Cups in Lignano (ITA) and Malaga (ESP) this year. And Joni Geilen also had to tremble for a very long time in Graz. Only after 7:16 minutes was her victory against Sara-Joy Bauer (GER/4) after Hansoku-make (3 Shidos) finalised. It was the world number 16’s second Junior European Cup victory after Malaga 2023.
For the 20-year-old German, it was her first ever Junior European Cup success. The victory was more than deserved, Tanja Grünewald needed a total fighting time of 7:22 minutes for her four victories, not a single fight went the full regular time. In the semi-final, she defeated top seed Kaillany Cordoso (BRA) and in the final, the number 25 in the IJF ranking prevailed against world youth champion Aleksandra Andric (SRB).
Five out of seven: Meanwhile, the Japanese judoka rushed from victory to victory, winning no fewer than five gold medals, plus a silver and two bronze medals. For four of the five winners (Mika NAKANO/-78, Chihiro YAMAGUCHI/+78; Yusei ADACHI/-60, Keito KIHARA/-73) it was their first Junior European Cup victory. Only Kairi KENTOKU knows the feeling, the 20-year-old had won Junior European Cup gold in Prague last year at his international debut, and in Graz he won gold again at his second appearance.
It is hard to believe that the judo superpower can be displaced from the top of the medals table. As a reminder: At the first edition in Graz 2022, they finished with 8 x gold, 2 x silver and 1 x bronze. Tomorrow, on the second day of competition, five more Japanese athletes will be in action. The Netherlands and Germany each hold 3 medals at the halfway point (1-1-1).
Host Austria’s haul was a bronze medal from defending champion Elena DENGG (-70/AUT/2). The World Championship bronze medallist from Odivelas suffered a bruised rib in her very first fight and had to go to hospital for further examinations immediately after the award ceremony.

Photo-Copyright: Judo Austria/Oliver Sellner

Author: EJU Media