Israel was the best nation at the Junior European Cup in Sarajevo. It was the ninth gathering of the season in Europe and with 237 participants the weakest field so far. In some categories less than 8 participants is not a valid benchmark for juniors that are used to big fields. The European Cup in Lignano for instance had over 600 athletes.
The men U60 and U66kg class was for Israel. Matan Kokolayev and Amit Bobovich captured gold. Tamar Malca (women U48kg) and Maya Goshen (women U70kg) delivered for Israel. The class U70kg was actually quite good with Silja Kok (NED) as finalist and a mix of Dutch, Croatian and Danish athletes in the top 8.
Also two Dutch women on the podium U57kg but the gold was for Flaka Loxha (KOS) who defeated Shannon van de Meeberg (NED). Pleuni Cornelisse (NED) and European Games participant Marica Perisic (SRB) took bronze. Another gold for Kosovo when Laura Fazliu defeated Nadiah Krachten (NED) for gold. The Dutch were unlucky with four lost finals.
Lou Anne Brustel of France took gold U78kg, Helen Vukovic was the best of two in the +78kg division.
Israel also lost one final, for women U52kg Nadezda Petrovic of Serbia took the gold against Paz Kafri (ISR).
Back to the men: Bulgaria was remarkably strong in men’s U73kg and U90kg with two gold medals for Mark Hristov and Kostadin Tsvetanov. Giga Abuashvili of Georgia defeated home player Vuk Elez of Bosnia in the final U81kg.
JudoInsider Mathias Madsen of Denmark defeated another JudoInsider, Kylian Bulthuis in the final U100kg in a very weak field with just six athletes. Losseni Kone of Germany defeated Bosnian Igor Vracar in the final +100kg.
Junior European Cup Tour
You wonder if the situation was any different if the IJF publishes all the participants. It could have been even worse as some athletes pulled back in the last moment.
Investments are made by the athletes to travel to Sarajevo, but the field was weak. This must be sign for the European Judo Union to reconsider all events each year in a growing ‘market’ where competitive judo is needed against the strong Asian and Pan American countries.
Young athletes can only spend their money once, perhaps twice and because of the pressure they are forced to further investments, but the return on investment is relatively small, whether you win gold or nothing.