Preview day 2 of the European U23 Championships in Potsdam
At the second day of the European U23 Championships in the city of Potsdam the heavier judoka will try to win the European title. Usually the weight categories where the home nation Germany will be boasting a strong team, anticipating potential victories across multiple weight divisions.
In the U81kg category, last year saw France, Bulgaria, and Turkiye sharing the podium. However, with France and Turkiye absent this time, Bulgaria aims to shine alongside other contenders. Benedek Toth from Hungary seeks to improve on his past 5th-place finish. Meanwhile, Boris Rutovis from Serbia, a young talent and the 2023 cadet European and World Champion, adds excitement to the mix. Athanasios Mylonelis from Greece brings valuable experience from competing in the IJF World Tour.
The German Judo Federation has done everything it can to ensure that the hall (capacity: 2,800) will be as full as possible on all days. “Friday might be a challenge – we’ve invited all the schools in the area. At the weekend, we hope that the hall will be full in any case. We have a defending champion in Samira Bock and a bronze medallist in Friederike Stolze (both U70kg). With 18 starters, 4 or 5 medals should be a realistic target. A dream come true would be a gold medal in the mixed team competition on Sunday,” hopes CEO Frank Dötsch.
Samira Bock is the reigning champion, eager to reclaim her title. Her German teammate Friederike Stolze, a bronze medalist from 2022, eyes an upgrade. Uncertainty surrounds the potential of Lidia Brancheva (BUL) and Aleksandra Kowalewska (POL), both of whom secured 5th place previously.
Serbia's Miljan Radulj competes in the U90kg category, aiming to challenge the reigning champion Nika Kharazishvili (GEO). Notable contenders like Alex Cret (ROU), Gergely Nerpel, and Peter Safrany (both from HUN) promise fierce competition. Ismayil Zamanov (AZE) and Fabian Kansy (GER) narrowly missed out on medals in 2022 and are eager to succeed this time.
The U78kg category anticipates further success for the German team, with Raffaela Igl, a former junior European and world medallist, leading the charge. Anna Monta Olek, winner of the Dushanbe Grand Prix 2023, joins her. Challengers like Sagi Nikolett (HUN), Yuliia Kurchenko (UKR), and Carolina Paiva (POR) aim to break into medal contention. Yael van Heemst will make her international comeback after a long injury and she will know the tactics of her German rivals by heart.
In the U100kg category, Veg Zsombor (HUN) returns as the only podium finisher from last year, eyeing the gold medal. Georgian contenders Mikheil Japaridze and Erekle Bazierishvili aim to replicate their country's success from 2022.
Athletes such as Ruslana Bulavina (UKR), Oxana Diacenco (MDA), Erica Simonetti (ITA), and Kinga Wolszcsak (POL) compete in the +78kg category, seeking their moment of glory.
Hungary's Sipocz Richard, the current title holder in the +100kg category, aims for a successful defense. Georgia's Saba Inaneishvili and Irakli Demetrashvili, both bronze medallists, pose challenges. Ibrahim Tatarglu (TUR), despite being 17, displays remarkable achievements and aims high for a U23 European medal. Losseni Kone (GER), with recent bronze victories, hopes for a golden performance on home turf.
In essence, the European U23 Championships in Potsdam showcase a thrilling display of judo talent across various weight categories. Germany emerges as a strong contender while athletes from diverse nations strive for prestigious titles, promising an exciting competition filled with determination and skill.