28 March 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


Barbara MATIC (CRO) is currently the woman to beat in the – 70 kg category. The 29-year-old both leads the IJF world and the Olympic rankings for Paris 2024, the latter with more than 1,000 points over Elisafet TELTSIDOU (GRE). In the current season, she already has three big wins to her name (two of them at Grand Slam level) and has won no fewer than 17 out of her 18 fights in total. Only in the semi-final in Paris did she have to concede defeat to Miriam BUTKEREIT (GER). During a promotional shoot for her home EUROPEAN JUDO CHAMPIONSHIPS SENIORS in ZAGREB (25 – 28 April), the two-time world champion took the time for an interview about the upcoming EJU Prime Event.

It is almost 10 years since you won your first of four European Judo Championships Seniors bronze medals in Montpellier in 2014. Has the time come for your first European Championships title in front of the home crowd at Zagreb Arena on 26th of April?

I hope it’s going to happen in Zagreb in front of my home crowd. My whole family will be there, including my best friends. At least reaching the gold medal fight is my goal for the home European Championships, winning the title would be just awesome. I am really looking forward to the event. Home tournaments are always special for me, a European Championships taking place in Zagreb is even more special of course.

At the last European Championships, in November 2023 in Montpellier, you won bronze, the only medal for Croatia. How many medals can we expect from the home team?

Hopefully a lot more than one. I’m reckoning on me winning a medal, plus two or three others – four medals in total would be great. There should be at least one gold medal.

What do you guess? Will you be more nervous at the home European Championships than usual before a major event?

I don’t really think so. Zagreb is part of my road to Paris. I will do my best to focus on the fights only and treat it like a normal home tournament. The more normal my competition routine happens to be, the better.

Are you superstitous? Do you have a special lucky charm for the European Judo Championships Seniors?

I haven’t had any lucky charms in my sports bag for quite a while. But I do have a special shirt I am wearing for warming up before each of my fights.

Who in your inner cirle will be on the stands in the Zagreb Arena on your competition day, Friday, the 26th of April?

My whole family, all my friends from Split and Zagreb. All in all, about 20 people who will be cheering for me. I’m really looking forward to it.

Paris will be your 3rd participation in the Olympics. You narrowly lost the bronze medal match in Tokyo. Do you still think back to that?

Actually only when I’m asked about it in interviews. A new era began for me right after the Olympics. From then on, I started preparing for Paris 2024. I really want to win that missing Olympic medal in July. That is what I have been working for.

You would be the first Croatian judoka to win an Olympic medal. In other words, it would be a historic moment: are you aware of that?

I don’t think like that. My attitude is more like this: I am a professional judoka, trying to make the most out of my career. I’m still missing an Olympic medal. I want to make up for that in Paris, in the Champ de Mars arena.

Author: EJU Media