27 June 2024


European Judo Championships Cadets Sofia 2024


The preliminary rounds saw five of the six top seeds battle their way through to their respective semi finals, meeting the best of the best in their weight categories.

It was an unfortunate affair for the team of Azerbaijan, though they could be happy that both of their -50kg medal hopes reached the semi final, one would go on to a guaranteed gold or silver, the other, potentially walk away with nothing. Bahadir FEYZULLAYEV (AZE) and Mahammadali HUSIYEV (AZE) had a familiar contest, but it was Feyzullayev who managed the win with juji gatame. Axel CUQ (FRA) was looking to match his sisters record with a Cadet European gold, but he couldn’t best his semi final opponent, Rostyslav KOSTRYKIN (UKR). Cuq attacked with drop seoi sage, but entered with too much space between himself and Kostrykin, who countered for the golden score win.

Top seed, Aiora MARTIN CARRICHES (ESP) was given a huge test in the -40kg semi final against Busra Ceylon COSKUN (TUR). The strong pair went head to head for seven and a half minutes before Coskun was issued a third shido for passivity, allowing Martin to represent her ranking and go in to the final against Mathilde AUREL (FRA). The French athlete was not wanting to repeat this golden score marathon, and instead earned her place in the final by applying shime waza in 30 seconds against Zarina TSAKULOCA (AIN).

Top seed of the -55kg category, Gal BLAZIC (SLO) endured an exhausting semi final against the #4 seed, Khazar HEYDAROV of Ukraine. This particular head to head was incredible close and it took just under 10 minutes of contest time for Heydarov to pull out a score and break the trend of success for the leading seeded athletes. A drop morote gari was his key to success, but next up, he would face Magomed ABDULAEV (AIN) who made light work of his semi final against KUNYIK Botond (HUN), finding his in for the shime waza and persistently trying until his opponent submitted.

Patricia TOMANKOVA (SVK) © Gabi Juan

All eyes and pressure was on Patricia TOMANKOVA (SVK) who seemingly felt none of it, her composure secure and swiftly making her way through her preliminary contests. Already with a Cadet European and World title at -40kg, she is looking for glory at -44kg as she makes her way towards her senior transition. Competing against Natalija PROLIC (SRB), she executed sumi gaeshi which likely would have scored a waza ari, however a bridge defence from Prolic upgraded the score to ippon. There is now only one competitor left in her way of the -44kg gold, Africa PUENTE LOPEZ (ESP), who is a fighter and is always looking for the big throw. It was a tough semi final contest for Puente agains Maelys DAPA (BEL) but she scored waza ari with drop morote seoi nage in the first half of the contest, which eventually won her place in the final.

The current Cadet World Champion, Izhak ASHPIZ (ISR), managed to claim a bronze in the 2023 European Championships and his goal today was be in the -60kg final. Again, like team Azerbaijan, he was dealt the card of facing his team mate Shalev COHEN, another top four seed, in the semi final. It was a long head to head, but the latter picked up two shidos and eventually Ashpiz found his way in to score with kata guruma. This ensures a silver medal at the very minimum, but when heading in to the final, gold is the only thing in mind. Polish support in the crowd was incredible throughout the day and was key to the success of a few athletes, including Jakub KUROWSKI (POL) who was unstoppable. His previous contests were difficult but Veljko VARNICIC (SRB) put up a brick wall to all of his attempts, and it wasn’t until Varnicic let his guard down for a moment in golden score, Kurowksi was able to score waza ari.

The only top seed to fall at the quarter final stage was the -48kg Lalla-Dounia LAHRIFI (FRA), and instead found herself fighting through the repechage. Defeating Lahrifi, was Sidorela DODAJ (KOS) who then went on to the semi final against Charlotte NETTESHEIM (GER). It wasn’t such a long endeavour for the German athlete who took a deep cross grip and hooked in with o uchi gari, clinching, she eventually scored and immediately transitioned in to ne waza. Meeting her for the final will be Barbara TWAROWSKA (POL) who defeated Sofia ZAKHAROVA (AIN), Zakharova attacked with uchi mata but Twarowska managed to step around and throw with ko soto, a waza ari score that she managed to defend until the clock ran down.


Author: Thea Cowen