28 June 2024


European Judo Championships Cadets Sofia 2024


On the first day of the Cadet European Championships 2024, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, the President of the European Judo Union, Dr Laszlo TOTH was present to welcome the champions of the future and award medals to the victorious. It wasn’t the medals that impressed the president however, but the overall performance of the young judoka,

We just celebrated the first medal ceremony and I just want to address these young girls, I am so proud, they are -40kg and demonstrate a true champion mindset, for me it’s wonderful because I see in them, our development programme. For us, it is a very positive message that we have 44 countries here accepting the invitation to these Cadet European Championships, I must also highlight that it is a record number of 514 participants. For me this is the most important, the attendance from all of these countries is good feedback.

President Toth awarded the -40kg category. © Gabi Juan

I am so happy to see the high quality of the fights, I believe we are heading in the right direction, and it encourages me further, that our U15 Judo Hopes programme will support this constant improvement and the level of judo in Europe. By learning the Kodokan judo, I am convinced it will only help us to improve. I was joking with our referees that the quality will be so high that their jobs will become the easiest! Clear ippons and quick contests!

On the eve of the championships, the referees were guided in a seminar by Head Referee Director, Alexandr JATSKEVITCH, an idea implemented by President Toth.

For me, it is necessary and important. I’m sure the result of today, the high quality refereeing, is a result of this seminar and the work of yesterday. They are coming from many different countries and they must have this time to refresh themselves and be on the same page, to find the rhythm with each other. It is important to have this acclimatisation period for them to do their job in the best way possible.

Referee Seminar: Cadet European Championships 2024 © Kostadin Andonov

I would like to thank the Bulgarian Judo Federation, two years ago they organised the Senior European Championships and now we are back for the Cadets, as part of the development programme. I have had several conversations with my colleagues, and how we will start to prepare for the next four years. I can say that in this past Olympic period, we have focussed on the Olympic level and the qualification of athletes, supporting 26 countries in Europe. Now we have an idea, that this programme will continue, but start from the cadet level. It is a nice vision, to see these athletes here but I want to to increase the number, from 44 to 51 countries. We would like to concentrate on the small and missing countries, to make sure we are doing everything to enable them to be here.

What can be noted is not only the number of countries, but the number of young women competing from nations who were previously dominant in the men’s categories. With the introduction of the Mixed Team event in major championships, it has forced federations to invest in their teams to be a part of the developing judo landscape.

For the past few days I have had meetings with coaches, from several countries and I think I can say that I’m a huge supporter and maybe even the biggest promoter for women in judo. I have told every coach to give focus to the women’s judo. Some countries have the chance now to look after their development of women, the men have the support and take medals but for some of the women it is difficult. Judo is a special sport, the goal is to be 50:50, it is not only a mission but it is our job to ensure that judo is for all, we know it is more than sport.

President of Slovakia Judo, Jozef TOMANEK, two-time Cadet European and World Champion, Patricia TOMANKOVA and EJU President, Dr Laszlo TOTH. © Gabi Juan

This new generation, perhaps we will see some in Los Angeles but they will definitely be in the following Olympic Games. We will see them as the very top athletes, becoming Olympic Champions. I hope they will remember that they started their sporting careers here in Sofia in this 2024 European Championships and have fond memories.

Author: Thea Cowen