The European Club Cup has been organised in judo since 1976. In the 2010s, it was known as the European Club Championships and the Golden League. Since 2018, the team format has been known as the European Club Championships – Champions League. The European Club Championships – Champions League 2023 was held on 9 December in Belgrade (SRB). Once again, the team event turned out to be a judo treat of international calibre. “It was a day that will go down in history,” EJU President László TOTH and Serbian federation president Ivan TODOROV agreed at the end.
The most important facts, figures and side stories:
- No fewer than 8,200 spectators attended the final block in the Stark Arena. A total of 250 athletes were accredited.
- On paper, the men from OJK BELGRADE went into the race as clear underdogs. In the end, they made history – with the first Champions League title for Serbia in judo history. Co-favourites Red Star Belgrade, who had already finished second twice and third twice, ultimately had to settle for bronze – as did the highly rated stars around Teddy Riner at Paris Saint-Germain.
- The main reasons for the home team’s victory were runner-up European champion Darko BRASNJOVIC (-90) and the two Spanish legionnaires Alberto GAITERO MARTIN and Jorge CANO GARCIA.
- Language barrier: The Serbian OJK fighters and coaches called their Spanish team-mates by the wrong names. “We go by Gaitero and Cano respectively. We’re not used to suddenly being called by our mothers’ (surnames). At first, we didn’t react to the calls at all. It took us some time to get used to the situation,” said Alberto and Jorge after the final. “But our mums will be happy.”
- Gaitero Martin and Cano Garcia had only been contacted by Belgrade two months ago and arrived in the Serbian capital two days ago for a short familiarisation training session. “We were treated like family right from the start. It was really cool,” emphasised Jorge Cano Garcia.
- The victory of the women of Paris Saint-Germain Judo was also historic. “The fact that we managed to win the Champions League before the footballers and handballers makes this victory particularly special,” said former world champion Romane DICKO.
- “You can only get into this team photo with a Champions League gold medal,” said Romane Dicko to team-mate Teddy Riner. The three-time Olympic champion and 11-time world champion borrowed the gold medal from Audrey TCHEUMEU (+70) without further ado and had himself photographed with the newly crowned Champions League winners. His comment: “In the end, only gold matters!”
Author: EJU Media