21 April 2023



Estonia is a country in northern Europe, bordered by the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland. Embracing more than 1,500 islands, its diverse topography realises rocky beaches, old-growth forest, and many lakes. Estonia is also peppered with castles, churches and hilltop fortresses. The capital, Tallinn, is known for its preserved Old Town, museums, and the 314m-high Tallinn TV Tower, which has an observation deck at 175m level. The population of Estonia is around 1.331 million (2021). 

The Estonian Judo and Sambo Federation was established in 1972. Five years later, in 1977, the Estonian Judo Association was created. However, it is the 20th of November 1969 which considered as the birthday of Estonian Judo as this day marks the first official judo competition in the country. Today, there are 41 judo clubs and approximately 6000 judoka practicing the gentle way across the total area of 45,228 km². 

Aleksei BUDÕLIN won bronze in the -81kg category at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games @estoniajudo © Szandra Szogedi

To date, the country was able to celebrate three Olympic medals, two of which were won by Indrek PERTELSON. Although it was Aleksei BUDÕLIN who won the first ever Olympic medal for Estonia when he labored for bronze at Sydney 2000 in the -81kg category; Pertelson joined with medal victory two days later claiming bronze in the -100kg category. Pertelson doubled his Olympic bronze collection at the Athens 2004 summer games. 

Mettis JUHAN won gold at the 2022 Veteran World Judo Championships. © Szandra Szogedi

On the world stage, Estonia won the total of seven medals so far in judo. Four of those were from senior world championships, where the earlier mentioned Pertelson-Budõlin duet continued to succeed in equality. The first ever world medal was claimed by Pertelson in 1999 in form of a silver. Following on, in 2001, Budõlin doubled the silver settings. In 2003, they kept to their good habits and doubled the world medal collections in Osaka, where Pertelson won silver and Budõlin claimed bronze. The remaining three world medals were collected from veteran world championships with the latest being a world title brilliance during the 2022 veteran world championships. This specific victory was delivered by Mettis JUHAN. 

Mattias KUUSIK celebrating historical victory at the u23 Europeans 2018. © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

As per Estonia’s continental championships journey, the total of three senior gold medals won so far, namely by, Martin Padar, Indrek Pertelson and Aleksei Budõlin. As per the pattern, it was once again Pertelson who marked history by becoming the first ever European Champion, precisely in 1996. The Estonian judo family has grown since and now the youngsters begin to deliver valuable continental victories too with the total of four junior and one cadet triumph gained so far. There was historical golden celebration at the U23 Europeans in 2018 delivered by Mattias KUUSIK. Today, the two most successful active judoka of Estonia are Kristofer Klen KALJULAID and Grigori MINASKIN, the latter delivering a European bronze in 2016 as well as two precious medals of the IJF world tour.

Off the mat… Did you know?


Author: Szandra Szogedi