The Bosnia and Herzegovina capital is ready to host the 2022 European Open event
All eyes will be on Europe as two major judo tours are set to get underway this weekend. The first is the newly created Fox Fly Film Cadet European Judo Tour which will kick off on February 12th in the resort city of Lignano, Italy. The tour will consist of 14 events and conclude at the Gyor Cadet European Cup in Gyor, Hungary on November 19 – 20.
The other tour on the card for this weekend is the Zerno Zavolzhya European Judo Tour. The 16-event tour, which will include seven European Open’s, eight European Cup’s and the European Judo Championships U23 event, will get started on February 12th in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina will host a 2-day European Open competition that will see 14 Judo Australia judoka’s make the journey to the Balkan Peninsula to compete in the opening event.
This will be the first event of the season for eight of the Team JudoAus members who are keen to get their season underway. “I feel excited to finally get the season started in Sarajevo,” said Liam Park who will be competing in the Men’s 100+ kg Division. “The coaching staff and high-performance team put together an amazing training camp leading up to this event and I’m ready to get out on the mat and compete for Australia.”
For young up-and-coming Maria Swan who is competing in the Women’s -78 kg Division, this event is not just her first of the season, but her first event as a member of the senior squad. Surprised by the opportunity to compete at a senior-level event, Maria has kept her focus on learning as much from this experience as she can. “When I was offered a spot on the team, I was ecstatic. The chance to compete at a senior event as a junior is exciting and I am grateful for the opportunity. Heading into Sarajevo, I must admit that I am a bit nervous but anxious to see how I match up with the other judokas on the team. This will give me a better understanding of where I am at technically and how much harder I will need to work to get to the elite level in the sport.”
The other six Team JudoAus members competing this weekend are fresh from their outing at the IJF World Tour Grand Prix in Almada, Portugal. After a disappointing start to the year, they are hungry to get back onto the mat. “I am disappointed in my overall performance in Portugal,” said Tinka Easton, Women’s -52 kg Division. “There were some good points that I was able to take from the event, but I know there is a lot I need to improve on, and I am looking forward to doing that in Sarajevo this weekend.”
With the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England scheduled for later this year, the Australian judokas will be looking to secure as many qualification points as possible and with half of them seeded in the top 5 for their respective weight divisions, there will be plenty of opportunities to see Team JudoAus on the podium. “I’m hoping to start the year off solid,” said Aoife Coughlan who is the second seed in the Women’s -70 kg Division. “Getting on the podium and building from there as we head into the Commonwealth Games and World Championships later this year is what I’m looking to achieve this time out.”
The road to the Birmingham Games in late July and the World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in October will be long and challenging with many international competitions and training camps scheduled between now and then. Coping with the stress of traveling and competing can be a difficult challenge for many, but for Maeve Coughlin, the opportunity to represent Australia is what it’s all about. “I’m lucky enough to be able to experience this journey with my sister and judo family by my side. Being around a team who truly cares for each other is always a joy, so I look forward to these moments,” said the 23-year-old who will be competing in the Women’s -63 kg Division. “I’m lucky to be doing this and I am looking forward to every opportunity to compete with this team and to represent Australia.”
The European Open in Sarajevo will be the start of 5 weeks of events for Team JudoAus before they have a short break ahead of the Pan American Oceania Championships scheduled for April 15 – 17 in Lima, Peru.
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Author: Charles Hall