4 June 2022


European Judo Championships Veterans Heraklion 2022


Today marked the third and final day of individual competition of the Veteran European Judo Championships 2022 and were also able to welcome the women’s categories. 

Due to reduced numbers have of course impacted the groups and some were inevitably forced to merge, and only one competitor was unable to do so. Instead a ‘friendly’ contest was organised for the German athlete, Astrid MACHULIK as we strive for inclusion during these times. Following the preliminary rounds, Machulik received a special award for participation in Heraklion. 

Astrid Machulik. © Gabi Juan

There were great celebrations all round for the competitors as they picked up their medals and stood for their national anthems, but for three it was a special time to be here. 

The DE SOMER clan from Belgium picked up three medals in their respective categories, with middle sibling, Fran, taking home the gold, and was first to stand on the podium. Competing in the F1 category -63kg, she stole the show and in fact her first veteran medal, made even more special given her golden result. 

Immediately following her medal presentation, it was time to swap places with her younger sister, Fee who grabbed the silver in the F1 -70kg and then later brother Dez took silver in the M2 -90kg category. Following their ceremonies we caught up with them all and the brother began, 

I am the oldest, but it was Fran that started first then a few weeks later I joined, I was a little jealous! 

It was, however, only the eldest, Dez who had competed previously on the veteran circuit and last time medalled in the 2019 Veteran European Championships in Las Palmas Gran Canaria. He continued,

They always came with me, to coach and support me but I said this time if they came they had to compete too.

Fran explained that they can use the event to create family time for a holiday as well, but this was the first time competing for both her and her sister, though the pair have plenty of experience on the tatami in the past. 

Fee, Fran and Dez DE SOMER of Belgium. © Gabi Juan

It is great to see that the family from Judoschool Moorsel, who have been lifetime members can come together and continue their judo lives. Even their father took up the sport in his forties, following his children, and earned his black belt. It also turns out that it is a possibility we will see a younger generation, already Fee’s five year-old daughter practices and tells us,

There are also three boys between us so no doubt they will practice as well. 

Although Dez is quick to say there will be some strong rivalry, the sisters insist they will form a formidable team instead! Only time will tell, but first the siblings can celebrate, adding three medals to Belgiums already hefty collection which yesterday had them sitting fourth in the medal table. 

F1 -63kg Podium.

F1 -70kg Podium.

M2 -90kg Podium.

Author: Thea Cowen