28 April 2024


European Judo Championships Seniors Zagreb 2024


As always the Mixed Team event brought with it great emotion and had spectators on their feet, especially for the home team of Croatia. They were already dealt a tough hand with Netherlands as their opponents in the quarter final, but with four wins, they soared in to the semi final. Great wins from Tihea TOPOLOVEC (-57kg), Helena VUKOVIC (+70), Lara CVJETKO (-70kg) and Dominik DRUZETA (-90kg) were driven by their team mates, coaches and delegations. 

Team Croatia © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

After straight set wins in the round of 16; Austria and Serbia took on France and Germany respectively. Unfortunately for Austria, they were then on the receiving end of the clean sweep, whereas Serbia managed a single win against Germany, but the end score for 4:1. This resulted in a France-Germany semi final. 

Georgia and Italy were the first head to head to have a deciding match, and the random weight pulled was -90kg; Olympic Champion Lasha BEKAURI and Lorenzo RIGANO. The win was awarded to Georgia, sending them to the semi final against Croatia.

As per the repechage contests, Serbia had a tough bout with Austria, a gruelling contest for Marica PERISIC (SRB/-57kg) who fought through after picking up an injury to ensure a win for her team. Similarly, Darko BRASNJOVIC (SRB/-90kg) appeared to hurt his shoulder but the drive to make sure Serbia made it to the medal contest was clear, leaving the score 2:3 in favour of Serbia. The winning point came from Milica ZABIC (+70kg) and the team left the tatami to regroup. 

Marica PERISIC (SRB) © Gabi Juan

In the second repechage, Italy defeated Netherlands 4:2, after losing in the quarter final, Rigano redeemed himself leaving only one more point to win which was left to Giorgia STANGHERLIN (+70kg). At the end of this head to head, Italy saw themselves through to the bronze medal contest, but who against?

Once again the area came to life as Team Croatia walked out of the tunnel to the tatami against one of the strongest mixed teams, Georgia. It seemed that after the close quarter final, Team Georgia weren’t prepared to go down that route again, Guram TUSHISHVILI (+90kg), Eteri LIPARTELIANI (-57kg) and Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (-73kg) putting the initial three points on the board, however Croatia’s World silver medallist Lara CVJEKTO (-70kg) put a stop to the clean sweep. This meant it was once again up to Bekauri to secure the teams place in the final. After scoring the first waza ari, it looked as if he was running out of steam but a last koshi guruma attempt, driving off the knee sealed the deal. 

Meeting Georgia for the final are Olympic Champions, Team France. The French team today are looking formidable, defeating Germany 4-2 in their semi final, with the deciding point won by Lea FONTAINE against the Tbilisi Grand Slam winner, Renne LUCHT in the +70kg category. 

Both final teams have had tremendous success in this event, in 2021, Georgia defeated France in the early rounds, knocking them out of the competition and going on to become champions, defeating the Netherlands in the final in Ufa. The Netherlands the took their revenge in 2022, taking Georgia out in the first round, however on this occasion it was Team France who took the title in front of a home crowd in Mulhouse. 

After some reflection Georgia went back home to dig deep, returning to the Mixed Team event in the European Games in 2023, and once again taking the gold medal against Germany. The defending champions have their work cut out for them, but a third Senior European Mixed Team title isn’t an impossibility.


Author: Thea Cowen