Hungarian city Gyor is a sports town. Last year's European Youth Olympic Festival was held in the northern Hungarian city, and this week the city will host the European U23 Championships and soon a European Cup for Cadets.
It will be the 15th edition of the European U23 Championships and the first held in Hungary. The Hungarians are traditionally very successful in this age category and have won 23 titles since the competetion's conception in 2003. Russia leads the table with 39 gold medals followed by Germany with 24.
Four Hungarians stand out as the most successful of all-time, with Abigel Joo at the top, having won four European titles on her own. She has earned the right to sit back and watch the upcoming championships, but will more likely be at home with her recently-born baby. Erdelyi-Joo also won two European senior titles of her own, and Eva Csernoviczki took home Olympic and World Championships medals.
The women will have a higher likelihood of success than the men, and the most important member of the Hungarian national team will be Gercsák Szabina, who brings experience to the competition, having competed in multiple senior championships. Gercsák was European U23 Champion in 2015 and 2016 and took bronze last year in Podgorica, and can be considered among the most decorated judoka in this age class.
There is also a medal chance for Réka Pupp, who was fifth at the European junior championship and has won medals at Grand Prix and Grand Slam level. Junior European champion Szigetvári Mercédesz and junior bronze medalist Tóth Fanni will have a chance to reach the podium, along with Emese Kárpáti. Youth Olympic Champion Özbas Szofi completes a hopeful women’s team for Hungary. The expectations for the Hungarian men are lower, and any success will be a welcome surprise.
Moving on to other countries, World Champion Daria Bilodid has elected not to fight, as she will be on a well-deserved holiday. It will be another Daria, Russian Daria Pichkaleva, that will be the athlete bringing the most success at Senior European Cups this year. She also fights in U48kg and won competitions in Saarbrucken, Orenburg and Bratislava this year. Arman Adamian, fighting in U100kg, has won three European Cups this season and is among the favourites, but will face stiff competition out of Belarus from Mikita Svirid who has claimed two European U23 silver medals this year, and believes it is his time to take gold in this competitive weight category.