The journey to judo’s homecoming in 2020 started years ago for the judoka away from the pubic gaze but now their campaign begins on the IJF tatami to fulfil their dreams and those of their country.
The fourth edition of the Croatia’s premier judo event emanates from the capital city of Zagreb which has become a key destination for judo as the IJF action resumes but with a new goal of Japan for the next Olympiad. The draw took place on Thursday afternoon in Zagreb conducted by Vladimir Barta where 229 judoka (139 men, 90 women) from 31 nations will compete.
Croatia’s own Rio 2016 Olympian and leading judoka Barbara Matic will be in U70kg action this weekend alongside her younger sister Brigita Matic. Double Junior World Champion Barbara, who was defeated in her opening contest in Rio, said: “I hope to win at least something that Majlinda has won in last four years. I am not in the perfect shape but I am looking forward to the competition and hopefully I can win a medal." In 2014 Barbara won bronze in Zagreb and finished fifth in 2013 in Rijeka.
2015 Junior world champion Brigita said: “Although I won a silver medal at the Junior European Championships last weekend in Malaga, I am not satisfied because I went there for gold. Zagreb is a new chance for the medal on a senior level and I am looking forward to fighting in front of my home fans."
First seeded U63kg is Marijana Miskovic who won silver at the Grand Slam in Baku this year. Also Tena Sikic is one of the seeded athletes. She will fight U52kg and won medals at the Grand Prix of Ulaanbaatar and Grand Slam in Tyumen this year.
In total 26 Croatian athletes make their appearance. Watch the full list of participants here