Once again we are back in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this time in Sarajevo for their second major event of the year after the Cadet World Championships in August. This weekend we will see two champions defend their European U23 titles, while all fourteen weight classes will have hungry athletes looking to steal the glory.

For the national federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is an honor to host the European U23 Championships again, the last time in 2010. Speaking to the secretary general of the national federation, former Olympic athlete, coach and commissioner to EJU Sports, Arijana JAHA, she is delighted to welcome back the delegations as well as the spectators.

This year we organized a European Open, a senior and junior European Cup, a cadet world championship and now to end the year, the European U23 championships. We are delighted to be hosting this event again and that the EJU has entrusted it to us.

Draw for the 2022 U23 European Championships. © Carlos Ferreira

Not all continents have this level of U23 competition and it really serves a particular purpose for athletes coming out of the junior level.

I think it’s very important for junior athletes moving up to the senior circuit, sometimes there is such a difference that it can seem almost impossible for them to follow the IJF circuit. It’s a great opportunity for them to collect a continental medal, win more competitions and it helps the transition to the senior level.

Another wonderful aspect of this tournament is that many are eager to arrive to see the talent Europe has to offer. It also fits with the World Judo Day theme of inclusion, judo is for everyone and it is readily available here.

Prior to this week I had calls from people all over Europe, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, all over the Balkan region, asking if they needed to book tickets, but we want everyone to be able to come to this event and be together so we’ve made it free for anyone who wants to come to a full house. We will also have guests from the ministry here, as well as the ambassador from the Japanese embassy who likes to be with us. In addition to these VIP guests, we also have our athletes, for example Larisa CERIC and Aleksandra SAMARDZIC who you see with the organization.

Tomorrow the tournament begins and the first seven categories will see new athletes become title holders with the possibility for Seija BALLHAUS (GER) to defend her title in the -57kg category. Follow the event live from 09:30 local time.

Author: Thea Cowen

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