27 March 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


Sanda ČORAK, President of the Croatian Judo Federation, was recently hampered by an arm injury. The plaster cast came off on Tuesday, so she can now concentrate fully on the upcoming EUROPEAN JUDO CHAMPIONSHIPS SENIORS in ZAGREB. On Thursday she will fly to the Grand Slam tournament in Antalya (TUR). Beforehand, the IJF Director of Educ ation and five-time national judo champion was available to the EJU media team for an interview.

There are still 30 days to go until the home European Judo Championships in the Zagreb Arena. What are your expectations for the first European Judo Championships Seniors on Croatian soil?

We regularly host judo elite events in all age groups, from the European Cadets Cup to the Judo Festival in Porec and the World Tour Grand Prix in Zagreb. The home European Championships Seniors eclipses everything we have achieved so far – it is a prestigious event and of course we want to be successful on all fronts. That means we want to organise a smooth and very atmospheric European Championships.

How many spectators are you expecting?

I don’t think we should raise expectations too high. 6,000 – 8,000 tickets sold – I would be absolutely happy with as president of the Croatian Judo Federation. Ticketing prices start from €10 up to €35. VIP packages-range: €150 – €350. My advice for any sports fan: Skip the line and book online: http://www.entrio.hr

We currently have around 7,000 registered judoka who practise the sport regularly. We want to increase this number significantly in the short to medium term. Then the number of spectators should also increase significantly. That is an ambitious but achievable goal. We are organising a series of side events at the European Championships in cooperation with our tourism association. Judo will be an integral part of Zagreb sport offer similar as Dubrovnik in April (EJU Seniors Cup) and Porec in June. Last year we had 600 participants at the Kids Camp. This time – as part of the European Championships – numerous children from abroad will also take part, and Olympic participants, above all Olympic champion Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO), will be available as coaches. We will have fun, I can promise that, and we would like to break the 1,000-participant mark!

Barbara Matic won European Championship bronze for Croatia in Montpellier last November. How many medals are possible in front of a home crowd?

The sporting expectations are high. We reckon we have a very good chance of winning medals in a few categories: First and foremost Barbara MATIĆ – just four months before the opening of the Olympic Games in Paris, she is in impressive form and has already won three tournaments this year, two of them at Grand Slams. She leads the IJF world rankings and the Olympic qualifiers. So after 4 European Championship bronze medals, why shouldn’t Barbara win her first European Championship gold in front of her own audience? Lara CVJETKO is number 8 in the same category, up to 70 kg. I also have high hopes for her in the Zagreb Arena. Then there are Katarina KRISTO, Iva OBERAN (both – 63 kg), Ana Viktorija PULJIZ (-52), Petrunjela PAVIC and Karla PRODAN (both – 78) and not forgetting Zlatko KUMRIC (-100). We’ve got a few hotshots, luckily!

You’ve already mentioned the Olympic Games in Paris. The Croatian pressure of expectation is perhaps even greater than at the home European Championships. Everyone is hoping for the first Olympic judo medal for your country. How do you feel about the Olympic Games?

It’s a fact: we’ve come close several times. But Croatia is still waiting for its first judo medal at the Olympic Games. Personally, I’m optimistic that it will happen this time. I think we’ve learnt our lessons. We are well prepared. I can only hope that we can travel to Paris with the strongest team, without any injuries. Then I’m sure that we’ll be able to score this time. Of course, that would also help the federation. Federations that win Olympic medals also receive higher funding. We’re not one of them yet.

Author: EJU Media