28 April 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


Eleven teams are competing at the European Judo Championships Mixed Team Event Zagreb 2024. With this format being part of the Olympic program, this event remains at importance and for the first time ever, the International Refugee Team took part facing Italy first round. 

The well experienced and established Italian team took the lead, creating a 2-0 set up on the scoreboard. Next up was the bout of the +90kg category with Kwadjo ANANI (ITA) and Adnan KHANKAN (IRT) where the latter shocked his opponent, taking victory. Head Coach of the International Refugee Team, Vahid Sarlak was overjoyed as it was just like winning gold. 

I am very happy because even my team is not as strong as others, but they are strong for life. Today, I see my athlete winning on the tatami and this for me, as a coach, it is very nice a feeling. I am very happy that my team come to the European championships to fight for life, freedom, and peace. 

I have been working for three years with this team and this week, especially today the fruit of all hard work came out. Seeing my athlete win a fight it’s like the gold medal to me. My athletes are fighting on and off the mat and together with the judo family. 

Members of the team are training separately at different locations in the world, nonetheless Sarlak takes care of their training regime. 

I give them training program every week. After events we evaluate and of course change the program accordingly. After this week, I see we need to focus on more techniques for sure.

The team will be competing next at the worlds and the Olympic Games and with that, Sarlak continues;

I will try my best at both events for my judo family and for my team. A few people don’t understand how my team is, this team is different. Other nations go back to their family after an event but not this team, they only have each other and they don’t leave in the same country. With this team we are each other’s family and we do some training camps together to strengthen our family. This could not be done without the support of IJF and I am very thankful for all the support they give to my team.  

Author: Szandra Szogedi