14 December 2023


European Judo Championships Open Pristina 2023


Many athletes may have wrapped up for the 2023 season, but there is the ultimate event still on the cards in Europe, the European Open Championships and the first of it’s kind with major financial reward for the victors.

Two categories, the -57kg women and -73kg men will be the first to go for this prestigious title and handsome prize of €55,000. Of course the medallists will receive prize money, but in this instance, even those in fifth place with receive €10,000. 

Leading the charge in the -57kg category is current -48kg Olympic Champion and host nation hero, Distria KRASNIQI and is followed by team mate, another Olympic Champion, Nora GJAKOVA. The #7 in the WRL is closely followed by the #8 and #9 respectively; Eteri LIPARTELINI (GEO) and Timna NELSON LEVY (ISR). These two recently competed against one another in the Tokyo Grand Slam with the Georgian taking the win, though both narrowly lost out for bronze. Arguably, there are no clear leaders in this category, as even the top seeds have been battling it out to and fro, and coming in as the fourth seed is the 2023 Paris Grand Slam winner, Priscilla GNETO (FRA).

Priscilla GNETO (FRA) © Gabi Juan

Gneto is coming off a winning high in the European Club Championships, as her club Paris Saint Germain scored the gold.

As for the men, Kosovo’s Akil GJAKOVA will have a tough road ahead with the calibre on offer in the -73kg category. At the very top of the pile is the WRL #1, three-time European Champion and recent Tokyo Grand Slam winner, Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE). The clear leader of the category has been on a winning streak as of recent, but this is judo, and anything can happen.

European Championship finalists, Salvador CASES ROCA (ESP) and Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE) © Carlos Ferreira

Putting up a fight will be Georgian legend, Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI who is also looking for his fourth Olympic medal in as many cycles. It hasn’t been plain sailing for Shavdatuashvili however, suffering defeat to Salvador CASES ROCA (ESP) in the European Championships this year, also in the line up in Pristina, Kosovo. This is in addition to the number #3 and #4 seeds in the event who are more than capable of standing on top of the podium; Manuel LOMBARDO (ITA) and Petri PELIVAN (MDA).

The draw will take place online at 16:00 local time tomorrow, Friday 15th of December at JudoTV.com.

Author: Thea Cowen