26 April 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


The -63kg category was the only one that didn’t see the top seed head in to the semi final rounds, instead, Renata ZACHOVA (CZE) won that quarter to face defending European Champion Andreja LESKI (SLO) for a place in the final. Zachova was swinging through the category today, and continued the momentum against Leski, eventually earning herself a waza ari in osae komi, which was enough to send her in to the final as Leski simply couldn’t pull it back. It’ll be a third European final for Zachova, however her previous were at junior and U23 level.

Renata ZACHOVA (CZE) © Carlos Ferreira

On the other side, the focus was on the Paris Grand Slam silver medallist, Katarina KRISTO (CRO) who took on World bronze medallist Joanne VAN LIESHOUT (NED). The semi final was, as expected, a physical head to head and then just over two minutes in to golden score, Van Lieshout devastated the crowd by countering a seoi nage attempt from Kristo. Nevertheless, Kristo will still compete for a bronze medal.

Top seed and world ranked number one of the -73kg category, Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE) was truly tested in the semi final against Adil OSMANOV (MDA). The latter has been on a steep climb in recent months, and making it to this position is evidence of that, however after three minutes of golden score with the reigning European Champion, he found himself on the receiving end of a waza ari score, earned with a drop seoi nage.

Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE) © Carlos Ferreira

Stepping on the tatami next were Daniil LAVRENTEV (AIN) who surpassed Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) for this place in the semi final, only to face France’s Joan-Benjamin GABA. It was a tough and tactical match, both athletes picking up two shidos and headed in to an exhausting golden score, 4:37 of extra time to be exact. Eventually it was a spinning uchi mata with his final ounce of energy that secured the final spot for Lavrentev.

The arena came alive for the host’s superwoman, world ranked number one and double World Champion, Barbara MATIC (CRO) who has dominated in the -70kg this year as well, happy with her results and was excited to perform in front of her home crowd, hunting for that European title. It has been a run of four senior bronze medals in continental championships for Matic, and facing her was Ai TSUNODA ROUSTANT (ESP), looking for her first at this level. There were huge celebrations after a tough head to head for Matic, Tsunoda issued a third shido for leg grabbing, and this will be Matic’s first senior final.

Barbara MATIC (CRO) © Carlos Ferreira

Elisavet TELTSIDOU (GRE) has put it all on the line for a Senior European medal on eight occasions, and narrowly missed the mark on her previous attempt, taking 5th place in Montpellier, but today she secured her place in the final with a pass in the semi final as Miriam BUTKEREIT (GER) pulled out due to injury. Guaranteed a medal, this is an incredible achievement for Teltsidou, but the final will be a big hill to climb against the home favourite.

Since taking the Junior European title in 2015, Frank DE WIT (NED) has yet to find himself a place on the continental podium, and now in the Olympic year, he makes it to the -81kg final. Standing against the defending European Champion, Vedat ALBAYRAK (TUR), there was no clear winner, even leading in to the final 30 seconds of contest time, then with only 22 seconds left, De Wit executed a waza ari scoring kosoto gake.

Tato GRIGALASHVILI (GEO) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Not long after this success from De Wit, top seed in the -81kg category, TATO GRIGALASHVILI (GEO) stunned the crowd with a beautiful de ashi barai against Antonio ESPOSITO (ITA). Last year, Grigalashvili was forced to settle for silver, but today only gold is on his mind.


Author: Thea Cowen