From Friday to Sunday, Arena Zagreb will be the scene of the ninth edition of the Grand Prix Zagreb judo tournament, where 516 judokas from 69 countries will compete for Olympic points for the 2024 Paris Games, reports HJS.
“Last weekend, at the Grand Slam in Budapest, many judoka men and women asked me about Zagreb. Everyone said that they like to come, that they are looking forward to it, so we are also glad to have the best in the world in our country,” said world champion Barbara Matić (up to 70 kg) at the press conference.
She is one of 17 Croatian names in the draw, including all three medalists from the Mediterranean Games in Algeria, Ana Viktorija Puljiz (up to 52 kg), Iva Oberan (up to 63 kg), and Petrunjela Pavić (up to 78 kg).
It is Puljiz who will “break the ice” as far as Croatian competitors are concerned in Arena Zagreb, and on Friday, Tihea Topolovec (up to 57 kg) and Leon Đapić (up to 66 kg) will also compete.
“Performing at home, in front of our fans, is always a special thing and an additional motive. After the medal at last year’s Grand Prix Zagreb and the recent Mediterranean Games, I come without too much pressure and want to show my best judo,” announced Puljiz, who starts against the American Jarrell. Topolovec awaits her first-round opponent, and Đapić goes against the Briton Fryer.
Six Croatian representatives will compete on Saturday. Oberan will fight against German Winzig, Lara Cvjetko (up to 70 kg) will face the experienced Cuban Perez, world vice-champion from 2017, and Matić will meet an old acquaintance, Hungarian Gerscak. In the same category, Anđela Violić awaits Colombia’s Rodriguez, 16th in the world ranking. In the men’s competition, Robert Klačar (up to 73 kg) will take on Morka from Poland, while Marin Franušić (up to 81 kg) will face Moldovan Zaborosciuc.
“After the medal in Budapest and Zagreb, it would be nice to continue in the same rhythm, but we will go fight by fight. We have a strong national team, we all have a chance for a medal, and it is especially nice to win it in front of our fans, which I hope will fill the stands of the Arena,” said Matić.
On Sunday, from 10 am, eight Croatian representatives will compete. Pavić goes against Venezuelan Leon, Tina Radić (over 78 kg) awaits Alqahtani from Saudi Arabia, and Ivana Maranić (over 78 kg) goes against Turkish judoka Akbulut. In the same category, Helena Vuković will fight against Moroccan Bensale.
In the men’s competition, Josip Bulić (up to 90 kg) will fight against Serbian representative Brašnjović, Zlatko Kumrić (up to 100 kilograms) goes against German Mai, Marko Kumrić (up to 100 kg) against Georgian Sulamanidze, and Marcelo Škalec (over 100 kilograms) awaits Montenegrin Dubret.
Everyone who buys a ticket for the Grand Prix Zagreb 2022, which they can do at Entrio.hr, helps children without adequate parental care in cooperation with the Vaša pošta foundation. Furthermore, on Saturday (4 pm), members of the Fuji judo club for persons with disabilities will perform a judo demonstration at the official opening of the competition.
“This is a big deal for the Fuji demo team but also all judokas because we show that judo is not only a sport but also a way of life. The way that includes all segments of society,” said Marina Drašković, president of Fuji.
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