19 November 2023


European Judo Championships U23 Potsdam 2023


Anna Monta OLEK (GER-78) sits in the audience in her grey jumper and loudly cheers on her team-mates at the U-23 European Championships in Potsdam. “The fights of (training colleague) Friederike Stolze were the most gruelling. She was always behind quite quickly and had to fight her way back. It was really cool that she won bronze.”

Anna Monta was actually supposed to compete at this home European Championships herself, but a broken finger put a spanner in the works. So the junior world and European champion sits in the audience and enjoys the fact that she doesn’t have to look at her watch or make weight. “Sitting in the stands, without any obligations, without any stress, that’s completely new for me. And I’m enjoying it. Even though I would of course prefer to be on the mat myself,” says the 21-year-old German.

Olek holds one of the fix qualifying places for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. She appears in 20th place in the world rankings, even though her starts at IJF World Tour level are still few and far between. But when she is allowed to compete, she is usually at the top of the podium, such as at the Grand Prix in Dushanbe (TJK) or at the European Open in Rome (ITA) and Warsaw (POL). And the trend is rising.

If it wasn’t for her team-mates Anna-Maria Wagner, 27, Olympic bronze medallist in Tokyo, former world champion, number 4 in the world rankings, and Alina Böhm, 25, European champion, IJF no. 5, Anna Monta could be planning for Paris 2024.

“But I’ve actually already written Paris off. That would be a bit of a coincidence for me to be allowed to compete,” laughs the Junior World and European champion. “I don’t even want to think about that. For me, the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles are more realistic.”

One thing is clear: the Olympics have been Anna Monta’s lifelong dream since she was allowed to watch the Games in London at the age of 10. “My dad (Detleft Knorrek) was a two-time Olympian. I want to follow in his footsteps and do better, ideally with a medal (laughs).”

The only commitment for the DJB next generation hope is a short interview with EJU commentator Ole Bischof, the 2008 Olympic judo champion and 2012 silver medallist. “What Ole doesn’t know (anymore), is that we have met before. A few years ago he toured the country as an Olympic champion and I was there as a member of the Hanover Judo kids team. He came with the gold medal, trained with us and told us about the Games. Suddenly the gold medal was gone and I was missing too. I had simply taken the gold medal into the changing room without thinking much about it.” Postscript: “More than ten years later I want to win one myself.”

Anna Monta Olek will have to wait a few years since then.

Author: EJU Media