23 April 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


After some potential excitement from Team Georgia on day two of the European Judo Championships, we could be in for some more with current Olympic Champion, Lasha BEKAURI leading the -90kg as well as team mate at #57 in the WRL, Giorgi JABNIASHVILI who placed third in the Upper Austria Grand Prix, defeating the #2 seed this week, TOTH Krisztian (HUN). This edition will perhaps put extra pressure on the men’s side, ending the 2023 European Championships with three silver medals on the final day.

Circling back to the top eight, Murad FATIYEV (AZE) took the Baku Grand Slam gold this year and is currently leading in the ranking for the Azeri team, but has team mates chasing him down including Paris and Tbilisi Grand Slam silver medallist, Eljan HAJIYEV. Ivaylo IVANOV (BUL) follows behind in the fourth seeded position, the two-time silver medallist in the -81kg category progressed to the -90kg group, and has delivered time and time again on the IJF World Tour, but now he needs to add continental success to the list of accolades. 

Nemanja MAJDOV (SRB) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Defending champion, Nemanja MAJDOV (SRB) gave a stunning performance in Montpellier and has only held his title for six months, no doubt will be striving to continue his reign, but there are plenty knocking on the door to take it. Theodoros TSELIDIS (GRE), Tristani MOSAKHLISHVILI (ESP) and Mikhail IGOLNIKOV (AIN) are all capable of the top position, the latter already title holder on two occasions in 2018 and 2020. 

The Georgian rule continues in the -100kg category with Ilia SULAMANIDZE, the world ranked number one who narrowly missed out on the title at the end of 2024, losing out to the WRL #2 seed, Zelym KOTSOIEV (AZE). Given the seeded positions, this could very well serve us a repeat of the 2023 final, however there are many top talents looking to put a stop to that. The incredible duo Matvey KANIKOVSKIY and current World Champion, Arman ADAMIAN (AIN) are hunting the senior title, the younger of the two, Kanikovskiy has landed on the circuit and has fast become a fan favourite so will be one to watch. 

Matvey KANIKOVSKIY (AIN) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Michael KORREL (NED) finds himself sandwiched between the two, and following up is Aleksandr KUKOLJ (SRB), the title holder in 2017 in the -90kg category. A single result was standing between Kukolj and the Tokyo Olympic Games, and he made it, just. This time around, he is a stable member of the -100kg category and that medal is not out of the question providing he is on form. Double World Champion, Jorge FONSECA (POR) seems back to his usual, ballistic self, claiming a silver in the Upper Austria Grand Prix, and then the title in the Antalya Grand Slam. Closing out the seeded positions is VEG Zsombor (HUN), one of the younger entries in this strong category, who is followed by the 2018 European Champion, Toma NIKIFOROV (BEL). 

It was almost a clean sweep for Georgia in the heavyweights, but Guram TUSHISHVILI is still coming up in second position, the two-time European Champion is looking for a title win in this cycle, and following a champions performance in the Tbilisi Grand Slam recently, it doesn’t seem like an impossible task. This edition will be missing two heavy hitters that Tushishvili would have liked to rumble with; Lukas KRPALEK (CZE) and Teddy RINER (FRA), but the World Championships is still in sight. 

Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Leading the +100kg men is current World Champion, Inal TASOEV (AIN), another fan favourite and speedy technician in this category, garnering a great deal of support, as has team mate, Tamerlan BASHAEV, the Riner slayer in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Incredibly, this is only the top three. Rivalling such stellar athletes are Jelle SNIPPE (NED), Marius FIZEL (SVK) and 2022 European Champion, Jur SPIJKERS (NED). Then we have the double entry from Germany; Erik ABRAMOV and Losseni KONE. Abramov currently has the edge on 2024, taking a result in Antalya, however, Kone gave a strong performance against Riner in front of the Frenchman’s home crowd in Paris earlier in the year. 


Author: Thea Cowen