Not only do we have the excitement of the cadet world championships this week, but also Coimbra will be hosting their first Senior European Cup. Vice President of the Portuguese Judo Federation, Mr. Joaquim PINA is excited for the city and community,
For many years, we have hosted events in Coimbra so it is especially meaningful for us to host it here, for the Major, for the Coimbra judo community, finally we will host a European championships there. Also, during the pandemic, Coimbra was the central point, the home for our senior team, they lived and trained there for months, and it was the place for international teams to come to so that they continue training. Coimbra played a big role in keeping our national team active so we think it is only fair, it is deserved
The federation may be looking at the benefits this event will bring to their wonderful and historic city, but we are looking straight to the entry list. Of course the home nation have entered some of their top representatives including the -100kg double world champion Jorge FONSECA who could go for a hat-trick in Uzbekistan in a couple of months. The world ranked number two has had a difficult year, his golden achievements dashed by Piotr KUCZERA (POL) on two occasions, one of which was the European championships. He performed well on the IJF tour but needs more preparation for the world championships in Tashkent, this instance at home is the perfect opportunity and will still have strong opponents with the likes of Toma NIKIFOROV (BEL) also entered.
As well as the world champion, we have current -90kg European champion, Luka MAISURADZE (GEO) who is returning following surgery and is hoping to be back in action to continue his title-taking in Uzbekistan as well. Dominic RESSEL (GER) will be leading the -81kg category. The last time we saw him compete was in the Antalya Grand Slam and what a day he had, defeating Saied MOLLAEI (AZE), Antonio ESPOSITO (ITA) and Matthias CASSE (BEL) on his way to the final block. Despite these serious wins he just missed out on a medal against Sharofiddin BOLTABOEV (UZB), but he has a good chance as the number one seed in Coimbra.
For the women, Portugal have taken three of the number one seeding positions; Catarina COSTA (-48kg), Joana DIOGO (-52kg) and Barbara TIMO (-63kg). Costa is a proven force on the Portuguese team and took gold at the beginning of the year in the nation’s first ever IJF Tour Grand Prix, setting the intended precedent of the year. We then saw an impressive performance in the European championships, where she took a silver medal, her best continental championship result ever. The 25 year-old is continuously on the rise and it will be a great event to demonstrate her abilities in front of a home crowd. Diogo also graced the grand prix podium earlier in the year and narrowly missed out on a bronze medal in the first Olympic qualifier in Ulaanbaatar.
As for Timo, we have now become accustomed to seeing her succeed in the lighter -63kg category, though the -70kg was equally as lucrative for her, taking her world silver medal in 2019. This is her first competition since the qualification period began and as we know, many are in preparation for the upcoming world championships and we certainly wish this team the best of luck.
They may be part of the 41-strong Portuguese team, and with their results, like to be making it to the final block, but they stiff opponents from outside the continent. In fact, the next two highly populated entries are from the People’s Republic of China (32) and Nigeria (12). This is certainly unusual for a European Cup event however the People’s Republic of China were notably absent from the world tour given the pandemic restrictions but have slowly made their way back and continue to expand their reach and find their feet.
The two-day competition has attracted athletes from five continents and as it stands the preliminaries will commence at 10:00 local time on both days, but don’t miss the draw on Friday evening at 20:00. We will be looking to see which underdogs could be potential problems from our IJF tour athletes.
Author: Thea Cowen