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History of the European U23 Championships in Bratislava

10 Nov 2015 16:05


This week the European Championship U23 will take place in the Slovak capital Bratislava. The little big city on the river Danube. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, has a long and glorious history. Right now, Bratislava is colorful modern capital that grew from an ancient river crossing. The Slovak Judo federation have a reputation in organizing judo events. In 1995 the European Team Championships were held in Trnava. In 1999 the European senior Championships were organised in Bratislava and this weekend the elite of the European judo U23 are selected to fight for the titles.

In total 295 athletes from 35 nations are in Bratislava, comparable to last year's 298 in Wroclaw. Most participants in the men's U81kg with a full schedule of 32 judoka. 

Some of the biggest athletes of Slovakia are Jozef Krnac who won the European Junior title in 1997 and obviously he won Olympic silver in 2004 in Athens. He won two European medals. Milan Randl is still active and started his European career in 2003 when he took the European cadet title. In 2013 he won the World military title and this year he won the European Cup in Bratislava, an event held since 2013.

Last year at the U23 Europeans in Wroclaw Russia won 3 gold medals, all men and Germany, Netherlands and Italy won two gold medals. Some of those champions can defend their titles such as the ‘youngsters’ Sappho Coban (GER) and Antonio Esposito (ITA) In the category U70kg World Junior Champion Szabina Gercsak is one of the favourites as her rival Sanne van Dijke won't compete due to physical problems. It's been a busy year for some of the athletes in this age category.

Perhaps with Gerczak and Krisztian Toth the Hungarians can aim for a few more titles. Toth won the title in 2011 and 2013. In the history of the European U23 Championships the Hungarian team still have the best figures. Abigel Joo won even four European titles (2009-2012). But also Éva Csernoviczki and Barna Bor won three times, more than anyone else. By country Russia is the most successful with 30 titles, 22 for the men, 8 for the women. Germany have traditionally the best women in this age category with 11 titles followed by Hungary (10) and Netherlands (9). Sappho Coban and Maaike Ziech will defend their titles in Bratislava.

Task for the host nation to try to claim a medal, Milan Randl was so far the only one to win a medal, in 2009 he took silver. Nice challenge for Matej Poliak who won the European Cup in Bratislava U66kg. This category can be won by any country. In the 12 different European Cups, 12 different nations won the title, nine of those winners were aged younger than 23 years.

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Related judoka and events

Related Judo Photos

  • Sappho Coban (GER) - European Cup Sindelfingen (2015, GER) - © Klaus Müller, Watch:
  • Antonio Esposito (ITA) - World Championships Juniors Ljubljana (2013, SLO) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Szabina Gercsák (HUN) - Junior European Championships Oberwart (2015, AUT) - © Menno Lesterhuis

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