23 April 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


While the Georgian men may be leading in the heavyweight categories on the third and final day of the individual competition, Israels leading ladies; Inbar LANIR and Raz HERSHKO are running the show in the -78kg and +78kg categories. 

Lanir is the reigning World and IJF Masters Champion from 2023 but is still vying for her podium spot this year, Given her ability to perform on the major championship stage, this could very well be her ticket back. In the previous European Championships, she was only defeated by the eventual champion, Alina BOEHM (GER) who managed to defend her 2022 title and is coming back again in a bid to score the hat-trick. 

Boehm will be conscious of the national rivalry between herself and Anna Maria WAGNER who is three places ahead in the world ranking list, but with the seeding positions in this tournament, the pair will sit on opposite sides of the draw. Between is Guusje STEENHUIS (NED) who appears to be on top form this year, heading toward the Olympic Games; bronze in the Paris Grand Slam, gold in Baku and a silver more recently in Tbilisi. 

Guusje STEENHUIS (NED) © Gabi Juan

Another seeded double act comes from Ukraine, Yelyzaveta LYTVYNENKO sprung to success first with a World bronze in Tashkent, and garnered the title of young future hope, however she has now been joined by team mate, Yuliia KURCHENKO who was still working the continental circuit, but now has established herself. After achieving bronze in the Tbilisi Grand Slam in 2023, she has secured two Grand Prix silver, as well as a Grand Slam bronze in Baku, before coming full circle and winning the Tbilisi Grand Slam in 2024. The consistency is there for the world ranked #15, and this week will be interesting. 

Though France’s Olympic selection has been made for the -78kg category, Audrey TCHEUMEO isn’t shying away from competition, the four-time European Champion and WRL #9 is perfectly capable of topping the podium for a fifth time. Patricia SAMPAIO (POR) is also in seeding position, but looking beyond that, the home crowd will be cheering on two members; Petrunjela PAVIC and Karla PRODAN. The latter had an emotional Grand Prix medal win in Austria, her first since 2021. 

In the +78kg category, Hershko will have her hands full with a tough group of opponents, lead by Antalya Grand Slam winner, Julia TOLOFUA (FRA), as well as Lea FONTAINE of France. Rochele NUNES (POR) comes in as the number three seed, and then we see yet another double entry. This time from Türkiye. Both Kayra OZDEMIR and Hilal OZTURK impressed the home crowd by standing on the podium, winning bronze medals, and Ozturk is persistent in the chase to Paris, less than 700 points separate them in the ranking at this point. 

The national rivalries continue in the Dutch camp with Marit KAMPS and Karen STEVENSON, Kamps at #7 in the seeding. Milica ZABIC (SRB) picks up the last of the seeding places, the #14 in the WRL took silver last year here in the Zagreb Grand Prix and will be hoping for a similar performance. An outside threat could come from Renee LUCHT (GER) who gave a show stopping performance in Tbilisi, with U23 and Junior continental championships results, the 25 year old may be able to add senior to her collection. 

Milica ZABIC (SRB) and Kayra OZDEMIR (TUR) © Carlos Ferreira


Author: Thea Cowen