The five lightweight categories for men and women were first up in Luxembourg to compete for the 2021 Junior European titles. 

There were some returning junior European medallists looking to keep their medalling status and in the end four were able to manage it; Faiza MOKDAR (FRA), Ana Viktorija PULJIZ (CRO), Ozlem YILDIZ (TUR) and Romain VALADIER PICARD (FRA). France took lead of the medal table followed very closely by Russia with two gold medals each as well as silver and bronze, nine countries in total took medals on day one. 

Though the eventual winner of the -48kg category, Irena KHUBULOVA (RUS) wasn’t seeded in the top eight, it was little surprise that she took her place on top of the podium again. The 2019 junior European champion felt strongly that her experience would place her in the final, having taken a bronze in the Kazan Grand Slam this year. Only one of her contests proved difficult but she gave a simple explanation for this, 

Everything depends on the focus and you’re mood, I was not focussed enough but after this fight, my coach Stanislav Kasoev called me as he could not be at this event and he motivated and helped me to be better in the other two fights.

Irena Khubulova wasted no time in the -48kg final.

Khubulova is clearly ready to take her place as a senior but wanted to take the opportunity here in Luxembourg as her last year as a junior athlete. 

Valadier Picard took bronze in 2020 and already had a European title as a cadet but his performance exceeded expectations today, his maturity evident and his strong practice was exemplary in the final against Georgian, Giorgi SARDALASHVILI. His opponent looked confident in ne waza and though he came close to the hold, the French was ready and waiting, his response automatic and he turned the situation around to be the one in control.

I’m really really happy, it is the result of a lot of work, in addition it is a reward for me for all the work I’ve put in place with my club coach. I knew it wasn’t osae komi because I knew the situation and I had already worked on the change and worked on this with my ne waza coach Sebastian Calloud, and I would like to say thank you to him, he is the coach who has taught me everything in ne waza. It was only an instinctive reaction.

A big thumbs up for the -60kg junior European champion, Romain Valadier Picard (FRA).

The Russian women were on a roll, the -52kg gold medal going to the #2 seed, Liliia NUGAEVA. It has been a great year for her, a gold in the Aktau Asian Open as well as two junior European cup gold medals, so this wasn’t too surprising for her team that she found success in Luxembourg as well. Her final against #1 seed, Chloe DEVICTOR (FRA) was a tough contest, both with same side extreme grips, it was simply a matter of time and well in to golden score before one of them would find the right moment. 

Liliia Nugaeva (RUS) defeats Chloe Devictor (FRA) in the -52kg final.

In the -66kg category, France took their second gold medal with Maxime GOBERT. This is his third junior European championships and he tells us how his performances in the past were ‘so so’ but today it all changed. This year he had already claimed two gold medals in junior European cup events but today he made sure he performed when it really mattered. The final was much anticipated after seeing Kantemir KODZOV (RUS) endure a ballistic and exhausting semi final against Tengo ZIRAKASHVILI (GEO). The pair had fought previously in Italy so though his Russian opponent was strong, he was ready and well prepared.  

I’m really excited to have this medal because its an important title as a junior, I’m proud of my self and the staff, I want to thank all of the people who have helped me to get the title today. This season I have been on the podium in the European cups and today confirmed my performances. 

Third time’s a charm for Maxime Gobert (FRA) as he takes the junior title.

It wasn’t an easy day but the strength of the French team was evident and seeing his team mate take the gold he was confident in himself to match the result.

My team mate Romain, he is really good in ne waza as are Team France, it is important to me to evolve there because it is so important in judo.

The final contest of the day was between the returning junior European champion, Faiza MOKDAR (FRA) and Kerem PRIMO (ISR). Mokdar had defended her title throughout the day and gave it her all in the final, going in to golden score against the young Primo. Only last month the Israeli competitor took the cadet European champion title in the -57kg category and today proved that it was certainly no fluke as she continued her winning streak, all the way to the gold medal. Though her records show little competitive experience, her style would suggest otherwise, perhaps training with the senior team of Israel has prepared her in the best way, especially with training partner and sister, Gefen. 

After a gruelling golden score, the gold medal and junior title went to Kerem Primo (ISR).

The level of the athletes performances today set the standard for the remaining two days of individual competition and mixed team event on day four. We hope to see many of these younger faces on the senior circuit soon and perhaps some in Paris 2024 but for now, don’t miss out on the rest of the Junior European Championships and watch every action at

-48kg Medallists
🥇 KHUBULOVA Irena 🇷🇺
🥈 VALIYEVA Aydan 🇦🇿
🥉 SCUTTO Assunta 🇮🇹
🥉 BERES Lea 🇫🇷

60kg Medallists
🥉 VEREDYBA Oleh 🇺🇦
🥉 KOKOLAYEV Matan 🇮🇱

-52kg Medallists
🥇 NUGAEVA Liliia 🇷🇺
🥈 DEVICTOR Chloe 🇫🇷
🥉 PULJIZ Ana Viktorija 🇭🇷

-66kg Medallists
🥇 GOBERT Maxime 🇫🇷
🥈 KODZOV Kantemir 🇷🇺
🥉 HONCHARKO Yevhen 🇺🇦
🥉 KAZIMIROV Vladyslav 🇺🇦

-57kg Medallists
🥇 PRIMO Kerem 🇮🇱
🥈 MOKDAR Faiza 🇫🇷
🥉 GRABNER Lisa 🇦🇹
🥉 YILDIZ Ozlem 🇹🇷

Author: Thea Cowen