29 June 2024


Slovenj Gradec Junior European Cup 2024


It is a busy weekend at the Slovenj Gradec Junior European Cup 2024, where amongst the 34 nations attended, three of those are from the Pan-American region: Argentina, Canada and the USA. On the first day of competition the latter secured a remarkable bronze medal via Lenny SHEYNFELD in the -66kg category. We had the opportunity to talk to him after the medal ceremony.

Let’s dive right into it, your first European cup medal, how do you feel?

I feel good, I wish it was a gold medal but I am proud for my first European medal. None of this could be possible without my great support system including parents, teammates and my coaches. Aiming for higher though, so it’s a good start.

The Pan-American region serves with a junior tour of their own where you won silver last year at the Montreal junior cup. What are the reasons for travelling to Europe and would you say that today’s bronze is more valuable?

I believe the level of judo here is higher than the Pan-American region and I enjoy fighting Europeans more based on stylistic matchups and yes this definitely has more value than the silver at the Pan-American cup. The overall aim coming to Europe is to compete and train at the higher level. I was in Italy for the green camp for a week and then in Valencia Spain for another week. I will be competing in the Prague junior European cup next week. I will be going home July 8th for a week and then head to Japan to train for a month. My goal is just to get better every day and do what my coaches tell me. Whether that’s competing or training whatever it is I will do it.

Lenny’s dedication speaks for itself and started by him relocating from his home town, New York to go and live in Saugus Massachusetts which enables him to now train at Pedro’s Judo Center. You are spoiled for choice with the likes of Jimmy Pedro, Travis Stevens, Tyler Yonemori and Kelita Zupancic. How you feel about having such a credible support system?

I am definitely spoiled [he smiles]. It’s an honour and something that most people don’t have and I’m aware of this so I’m super grateful and thankful for them all, including my strength coach Scotty. This motivates me a lot, I know the standard in the room and I want to achieve that level so it pushes me forward every single step of the way.

Lenny is not alone on this Europe tour as he is joined by teammates Alex SEMENENKO and Domenico TERNULLO. Besides the Pan American visitors, there are other non European countries joined this event such as Kazakhstan and Lebanon. Despite being called a European Cup, the field of athletes extends worldwide, something which, Dr TOTH Laszlo, the President of the European Judo Union highlighted after the event;

The fact that we have athletes from different parts of the world who make significant efforts to attend our event is incredible and commendable. We are very grateful for their presence and that we can welcome them to our events, giving them and all European judoka the opportunity to grow. This weekend we have a great number of entries and I must add that the organisation of this event is also at a high level. I am very satisfied with the quality offered to all the teams taking part in this event.

Author: Szandra Szogedi