6 June 2024


European Judo Championships Veterans 2024


The first day of the European Judo Championships Veterans Sarajevo 2024 delivered all actions from M5 – M9 categories. France topped the overall standings with a total of 7 gold, 5 silver and 10 bronze medals. Germany (5-2-8) and Moldova (3-2-1) followed in line. 

BUKI Peter (HUN) excelled in the M5 -73kg category defending his title second year in a row. In the final, he overcome Steven PEERSMANS (BEL) to celebrate his 3rd veteran European title one of which was from a team event back in 2015. Adding to his collection are three Europeans bronze and a silver medal as well as three veteran worlds bronzes. In Sarajevo, he had officially entered the double digit tally and whilst discussing numbers, Buki reflected on his preparation in addition to today’s happenings;

The preparations was rhapsodic if I am honest. I had tonsillitis 3 weeks ago, I had to take antibiotics. Regardless of that I do need to go to judo sessions more often. Especially to the national randori training where I can have light weight young judoka challenging me to improve my speed. I need to be faster I could feel it in the final too. I need less in number of bouts but higher in intensity at training. I am also one of those who needs to get my dominant grip instantly to enable me to throw. If I cant get that, things become wobbly. Fortunately, I was able to find the right moment in each contests to win. The final was tough, I had a bit of everything today, tactical and technical win. 

All in all, I am thrilled to have defended my title. The long break between the preliminaries and the final block was challenging meanwhile it was equally nice catching up with old friends. The venue is great, this championships is the celebration of judo. 

As per Vegas, I will watch The Hangover and head out there [he laughs]. Jokes aside, I do plan to go the Las Vegas for the worlds. I am hoping to do so with a good friend of mine, Zsolt and his son Dusan. Both came to support me today. Fun fact, Dusan became my mascot, whenever he comes to watch me I win. 

Vsevolods ZELONIJS, the president of the Latvian Judo Federation won the M5 -81kg category, setting the tone ahead of next year’s veteran continental championships which he and his team will be hosting. Nevertheless, he took a day off from the office to nourish his talent on the mat at his own debut at a veteran Europeans. It all seemed to pay off when winning the final against Philippe OCULI (FRA). 

My day was good, my last big competition was in 2008. I feel really good not only to win but it’s like my body just went down memory lane. Ironically, this is my first ever gold medal from the Europeans. I had 3 silver and 4 bronze as a senior judoka. Also, I want to say it was not easy at all, it was a good level of tournament. The semi-final was extremely hard, gone into golden score and I was very tired. I had one plan only against my opponent and quickly realised its not going to work so in my head I was like ‘do you want to go the final?’. You need to find a solution.

Of course, being the president of a national federation and competing certainly comes with pressure. At the same time, by wearing two hats, I am hoping to motivate the next generation of Latvia. 

One of many French victories was delivered by Christian JEAN GILLES in the M8 -60kg category. Sarajevo allowed the French veteran to win his 4th title whilst coping with some pain from his groin hernia. Nevertheless, it ended with all smiles around.

Today was great, I am very happy as I was able to defeat the current world champion in my first fight. That gave me a big push to strive forward. I needed to be strong in my mind too as I am due for surgery on Monday for my hernia. Following that there is a three weeks rest period before thinking about the preparation for the world championships in Las Vegas. And of course the Olympics in-between, I have tickets to watch four days which I am very much looking forward to. After all ‘le judo c’est la vie’ – judo is life.

The second day of the event will begin at 9am local time showcasing the following categories: M3, M4, Ne-waza M1-3 and F1-F3. Follow all actions live online via judotv.com 

Author: Szandra Szogedi