28 April 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


It is almost time to say goodbye here in Zagreb, as we close out the Senior European Judo Championships 2024, but first, the Mixed Team title will be decided.

The stands were packed as Croatia were first up to fight for a bronze medal against neighbours, Serbia. Regardless of the result, this would be a historic win for either side. The -57kg category were the openers with Marica PERISIC (SRB) and Tihea TOPOLOVEC (CRO) going head to head in golden score, eventually, Perisic took the win, scoring ippon with sumi gaeshi. Perisic was relieved by the end result,

I feel phenomenal because this is our first team medal at a European Championships. We had so many chances in past years and every time it was an almost medal and this time we won. Also, it is Olympic year and it is a good push because we want to go to the Olympic Games team event too. This is a good move towards it.

During the semi-final, the muscle got trapped in my ribs. I had this two years ago and when it happens you can’t breathe. It needs time but I did not have any so I kept going because I knew my team needs to win. This is not only for me but for my team. When I was in ne-waza holding the leg of the Austrian and when I looked up to my team I saw them cheering and that was pushing me through the rest of the fight. We were vary of me fighting for bronze and agreed if the warm up goes well we are good to go for bronze and I was fine.

Marica PERISIC (SRB) © Gabi Juan

Robert KLACAR (CRO) swiftly evened the score against Filip JOVANOVIC with a drop sode tsurikomi goshi. Jovana CAKAREVIC (SRB) attempted a counter against Lara CVJETKO but couldn’t execute and Cvjetko capitalised on the fall, moving directly on top for the osaekomi. 2022 European silver medallist, Darko BRASNJOVIC (SRB) was up next with the task of evening the score against Dominik DRUZETA in the -90kg category, but instead picked up two shidos for passivity, Druzeta highly motivated in front of the home crowd. 20 seconds left, ashi waza and caught the arm for juji gatame.

The bout between Milica ZABIC (SRB) and the home home favourite Helena VUKOVIC in the +70kg category was tense, the third win would mean the next contest could be the winning point so there was a lot of pressure on these women to take the lead. Zabic scored first, attacking with uchi mata makikomi, and was initially awarded ippon however it was downgraded to waza ari. Vukovic was on the back foot and tried to force shidos, being somewhat successful, but the last exchange lasted only three seconds before Team Serbia celebrated the lead.

Bojan DOSEN (SRB) © Gabi Juan

Zlatko KUMRIC (CRO) had an incredible day yesterday competing in the -100kg category, finishing with a 5th place after defeating current World Champion, Arman ADAMIAN (AIN) and eventual bronze medallist, Michael KORREL (NED). Now he was facing Bojan DOSEN in the +90kg category, and he needed to win to stop the Serbian win, but Dosen quickly put a score on the board with o soto gari, and then again in just over a minute of contest time, countering an uchi mata attempt from Kumric.

This is like a dream, such a good moment for me and for all my friends. I had a good plan against him because I lost against him [Kumric] 6 months ago and I knew what I wanted to do, which I was able to stick to. When I threw my opponent, I looked at the crowd and I was in disbelief of what I have just done.

Tears of joy were shed by the delegation in the seats, who came down to congratulate their athletes, a historic win for Serbia earning their first Mixed Team medal.

Coach of Team Serbia, Vladimir JOVICIC was of course delighted,

We made Serbian judo history today and it is very important for us. We are one of the few teams that have all the categories for the Olympics and this is the reason we have decided to participate here. Of course, we were going for the medal but I mean first it was a dream. Then we start talking about it and the team took the matter in their own hands and managed to win. You saw the atmosphere after the last fight, we exploded, everybody. It is an explosion of emotions.


Author: Thea Cowen