This weekend Belgian city Lommel will be the host of the European U20 Championships. More than 460 judo players from 40 different countries will fight for the honour of their country, trying to win that golden medal.
The Belgians have a rich history in this event. Belgium celebrated 18 European Junior Champions in the past. Ulla Werbrouck was the most successful with three titles followed by Brigitte Olivier (2).
With an average of 29 judo players per weight category, Lommel will provide a high quality championship. France and Russia are both attending with a complete delegation and history learns that we can have high expectations. Good Performances are expected of Dylan van Nuffel (U90kg) and Toma Nikiforov (U100kg) who both won two European Cups this season. As well as Lola Mansour (U70kg) who collected the title in Cetniewo. Gert Maes (U55kg) was unlucky losing two finals this year but is eager to win in Lommel.
On Friday the events starts with the light weight categories: the ladies U44, U48, U52 and men U55 and U60. On Saturday the opening ceremony takes place at 15.30h and weight categories U57, U63, U70, U66, U73 and U81kg will give the provide the best possible action.
The last day on Sunday, the heavy weight categories U78, O78, U90, U100 and O100 will take place.
Only a few judoka have succeeded to collect three European U20 titles: Kate Howey (GBR), Edith Bosch (NED), Rafal Kubacki (POL), Carine Varlez (FRA) and Ulla Werbrouck the later Belgian Olympic Champion.
France collected 64 junior titles and is leading in Europe, followed by the Soviet Union (60) more than double the titles of 29 titles of Russia. The Netherlands won 54 titles. The Soviet Union won a record of six titles in 1989. Last year Russia and The Netherlands were leading with both three new champions. Georgia won two categories in Samokov (BUL).
The last time that Host nation Belgium celebrated a junior European Champion was in 2009 when Anne-Sophie Jura and Charline van Snick won the European title. Van Snick is now highly successful in the senior category. However before the success of 2009 Belgium suffered a gap of 9 years without a medal. The golden generation between mid-eighties and late nineties gathered eleven titles.
The Belgian city that hosted the European junior championships was Oostende in 1973. In 1997 Belgium was organiser of the European Senior Championships in Oostende. The crowd inspired the home athletes to a great success of 6 European titles and three bronze medals.
You can find the draw, results and video here: