Friday, 15 July 2022

Grand Prix Zagreb: Over 500 to Compete in Judo Spectacle at Arena Zagreb

July 15, 2022 - This weekend, 516 judokas from 69 countries will compete for 2024 Olympic points at the Grand Prix Zagreb!

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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Sunday, 28 November 2021

Barbara Matić Nominated for Best Judo Moment in 2021

November 28, 2021 - The International Judo Federation has announced the nominations for the Judo Moment in 2021. Among the five selected moments is the World Championship won by the judoka from Split Barbara Matić, the first medal for Croatian judo at a World Championship.

The five big moments in judo 2021 are a display of the greatest achievements on the world judo scene. Among those five moments, the International Judo Federation included the historic gold of Barbara Matić (up to 70 kg) at the 2021 World Championships in Budapest, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

''I am pleasantly surprised and happy because they have recognized this historical moment for Croatian judo as one of the moments of the year. I am proud because my gold is among the nominations, and when you see what society I am in, it is only an additional incentive for me to continue working. When I saw the video nominations I remembered that special day in my life. A lot of people commented to me that their eyes watered again and that they celebrated as they did that day'', said Barbara Matić with satisfaction.

In September, Total Croatia News interviewed the world champion and number one judoka at her training center, Judo Klub Pujanke in Split. Daniela Rogulj from TCN spoke with Barbara about her Split background, her favorite moments this year, her experience at the Tokyo Olympics, her life outside of Judo, and her next goals to achieve. You can watch the full interview below.

In addition to Barbara's gold, among the nominees for the moment of the year are the first team gold at the Olympic Games (France), as well as three moments that show why judo is more than a sport. The friendship between Slovenian Tina Trstenjak and Frenchwoman Clarisse Agbegnenou, which was shown after the finals of the Olympic Games (up to 63 kg), when the Frenchwoman lifted Trstenjak and showed how much she appreciates her.

Then a friendly hug from best friends, Frenchman Cyril Maret and Joseph Tehrec after the semifinals of the Grand Slam Paris and lifting and carrying the injured Wakaba Tomita, a compatriot, by Sarah Asahina after the World Cup final, which delighted the whole world.

''Judo shows every day how beautiful it is. I am extremely proud that Barbara's gold, a display of everything we have done for 20 years for Croatian judo and Judo Klub Pujanke, are among the nominees for the moment of the year in world judo. At the same time, it is an obligation to continue even stronger in the new Olympic cycle and at the Games in Paris in 2024'', said Vladimir Preradović, Barbara Matić's first and only coach.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Barbara Matić Takes Silver at Judo Grand Slam in Paris, One of World's Strongest Events

October 17, 2021 - The world #1 judoka Barbara Matić continues with stellar results this year, taking home the silver medal from the judo Grand Slam in Paris over the weekend. 

Croatian judoka Barbara Matić won second place at one of the strongest judo tournaments in the world, the Grand Slam in Paris, reports T.portal

The world champion won the silver medal in the category up to 70 kg, while Zlatko Kumrić lost in the category up to 100 kilograms in the semifinals, and then in the fight for bronze and finished fifth.

What Wimbledon is for tennis, the Paris grand slam is for judo. The jubilee 50th anniversary of the Grand Slam in the capital of France seems to have additionally inspired the Croatian duo.

"Competing in Paris is something special. Apart from the fact that there were more than 10,000 people in the beautiful hall, they are all judo experts, and it is a pleasure to fight there," they both agreed after the current world champion Matić finished with a silver medal. Kumrić took fifth place in Paris for the fourth time in his career.

In her first appearance after the Tokyo Olympics, the first with a new red inscription on her back as the current world champion, she dominated until the final by defeating Mongolian Tserendulam and British Petersen Pollard. But in the final, Japan’s Niizoe was better.

"I didn't feel most ready before Paris, but I'm happy with the first competition, and a silver medal at the Grand Slam is always a good result. Of course, I always want to win all the fights, but today Niizoe took advantage of the situation and she threw me. I failed, and she won gold," said Matić, who very likely secured number 1 on the world ranking scale of the category up to 70 kg at the end of 2021, thanks to these points in Paris. 

Kumrić lost to Russian Ademian in the final block, first in the semifinals and on the same stage of the European Games in Minsk in 2019, and then he lost to Georgian Saneblidze in the fight for bronze.

"It was a good day, I reached the semifinals, but it's time to win that medal; I'm starting to hate fifth place," Kumric said after the defeat in the bronze medal fight.

Karla Prodan (up to 78 kg) and Marko Kumrić (up to 100 kg) also competed on Sunday.

The Split judoka lost in the last minute against Japanese judoka Takayama, who won silver in Paris. Her younger brother Kumrić dominated against the Frenchman Delvert, forced him to two penalties, but then fell in the end. 

The next IJF World Tour tournament is the Grand Slam Baku in Azerbaijan (November 5-7).

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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Friday, 20 August 2021

Barbara Matić #1 Judoka in the World!

August 20, 2021 - Following the Tokyo Olympics, the International Judo Federation (IJF) has announced a new ranking of the world’s best judokas. The current world champion and the best Croatian judoka, Barbara Matić, took the top spot in the category up to 70 kg, while Karla Prodan is eighth in the category up to 78 kg.

The best result in the performances of Croatian judokas so far at the Olympic Games, fifth place in Tokyo, helped Barbara Matić jump by seven positions and become the first name in the category up to 70 kg, reports HRT.

"I am proud because I sat at the very top of my category. Although the world gold brought the most points, the whole season was good, and the result is world number 1. At the same time, it is my motivation for even stronger work because there are so many quality judokas, and I want to stay on top in the coming years as I look towards Paris," said Matić, while coach Vladimir Preradović offered a similar view:

"This is a great thing for Barbara and Croatian judo and JK Pujanke. It is the result of twenty years of work and commitment to continue to be quality, as well as to raise others, from Karla to younger and new names to come."

Barbara Matić is from Split and is a two-time world junior champion in the women's 70 kg division and the bronze medalist at the 2014 and 2017 European Judo Championships as well. 

The winner of the European senior bronze medal from Prague in 2020, Karla Prodan, jumped 15 places and came in 8th place in the world ranking of the category up to 78 kg.

For the first time in one year, Croatian judo has two names in the Top 10 judokas, in its categories, with winning the first medal at the world championships and the fight for the Olympic medal.

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Thursday, 10 June 2021

Barbara Matić Becomes Judo World Champion!

June 10, 2021 - Barbara Matić won the gold medal at the World Judo Championships in Hungary!

In the category of up to 70 kilograms, the Split judo fighter defeated the Japanese judo fighter Yoko Ono in the final thus achieved the best result in the history of Croatian judo.

Index.hr reports that Matić solved the fight with a great move 40 seconds before the end and defended herself masterfully until the end to reach the gold medal.

The 26-year-old Matić withstood the terrible attack in the last 28 seconds with her incredible defense and big heart, and then triumphantly raised her hands in the air to celebrate.

Matić thus continued with great results this season. In October, she achieved one of the best results of her career in Budapest after winning gold at the Grand Slam in Budapest, beating three medal winners from the last World Championships.

She also won the SN Athlete of the Year award and won silver at another Grand Slam as part of the IJF World Tour in Antalya, Turkey. She was in great shape before the European Championships but had to miss it as she tested positive for coronavirus. However, she made up for everything at this World Championships by winning the gold medal. She will go to the Olympic Games full of confidence.

Croatian judo fighters have not yet finished their performance in Hungary. On Friday, Karla Prodan will compete in the category up to 78 kilograms, and Zlatko Kumrić will be looking for a medal in the category up to 100 kilograms. Ivana Maranić will be looking for a place in the Olympic Games in the 78 kg category on Saturday.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Barbara Matic and Domagoj Duvnjak Named Best Croatian Athletes of 2020

December 27, 2020 - The best Croatian athletes of the year in Sportske Novosti's traditional selection are judoka Barbara Matic and handball player Domagoj Duvnjak!

HRT reports that judoka Barbara Matic became the first martial arts athlete to win the Sportske Novosti trophy, in the competition of her national teammate Karla Prodan, a bronze medalist from the European Championships in Prague, the best Croatian tennis player Petra Martic, and world diving record holder Mirela Kardasevic.

Domagoj Duvnjak, the second handball player after Ivan Balic (2007) to be named the best athlete of the year, won his first Sportske Novosti trophy as the best player of the European Championships in Austria, Norway, and Sweden. His competitors for the award were national football team member Ivan Perisic, the winner of the triple crown with Bayern, the best Croatian skier Filip Zubcic, bronze medalist at the World Laser Sailing Championship Tonci Stipanovic and three European finalists in gymnastics Tin Srbic, Filip Ude and Aurel Benovic.

"I am honored to receive this award," said Barbara Matic and explained how she chose judo:

"At Pujanke Elementary School, I could choose between ballet and judo, and I chose judo," said Matic, who in 2020 won a gold medal at the Grand Slam Judo Tournament in Budapest, and on the way to the gold, defeated World and Olympic champions.

"Barbara, with her sporting success, became a master of mechanical engineering and shipbuilding; she used the time of the pandemic in the best possible way, to finish college," says the president of HJS Hrvoje Lindi.

Domagoj Duvnjak was the best player at the European Handball Championships held in January, where Croatia won the silver medal. This is his first Sportske Novosti award.

"An exceptional honor; I am proud of this award. Of all the accolades I have ever received, this award is my favorite. Being the best athlete in his country sounds like a dream," said Duvnjak, who received 150 votes.

Sportske Novosti adds that the Croatia women's handball team is the best team of the year, collecting as many as 231 votes. They shocked the nation and won the European bronze and deservedly the epithet of the best women's sports team in 2020. 

The men's handball team also won the Sportske Novosti award after becoming European finalists in January, receiving 245 votes.

267 sports journalists from 52 newsrooms voted in the Sportske Novosti awards this year. 

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