In two weeks, the European Championship for cadets, Juniors and U-21 takes off in Romania. With close to 450 competitors this European Championship raises up beyond expectations! This also gives us a clear answer in the case of organizing U-categories in a own EC tournament – no doubt about it, the numbers are too high if one mix seniors and U-categories together at the same tournament. This is the future!
The quality and prestige goes hand in hand. Everyone know by now that if you got a winner in the U-21 category, he or she will be able to challenge the fighters in the senior division next European Championship.
A little look back in the history, some of us can remember when the U-22 EC first came up. The first edition – and the second, was organized and held in Lithuania. This was a great initiative, and important element in the development of full-contact Karate. But there was some adjustments before it became what we have today.
The first edition back in 2009, included youths born 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987. But do to the lack of regulations, the first edition did not become what we think of when it comes to an European Championship. There was no limit of how many competitors in each category one could send, and the result was that it became more like an “U-22 Lithuanian Open” In total 81 out of 145 athletes was from Lithuania. 11 nations was attending. Behind Lithuania, Ukraine had 21, Hungary 10, Poland and Romania with 8 each.
This was also the case in the second edition, but now one could see that things was about to change. The 3rd edition held in Poland, 2011, and now we are close to the guidelines that we know today. Some thing had to be adjusted still, like the rule that one can not participate if one had been on the EC senior podium.
Poland did also organize the U-22 in 2012, and this time it was held simultaneous with the European Championship Open weight. A fun fact: as we remember Valeri Dimitrov / Bulgaria won the Open-weight category (Seniors), as in the U-22 a fighter from Azerbaijan, Salahat Hasanov won his category -65 kg, Edgard Secinski/ Lithuania the +85 kg, and Domas Sutkus/ Lithuania champion in the -80 kg category – all became strong profiles.
After that, the U-22 EC was organized several places, which is a good thing, and in 2018, Hungary, Budapest, the youth category went from U-22 to U-21, as an last regulation. The value of this systematic preparing tournament system, can clearly be seen in today’s fighting. Nations and the number of fighters below, (don’t forget to visit official website) The number of participants from the strongest nations are just impressive!
U22 final from 2011, Maciej Mazur (Poland) vs Kestutis Radvila (Lithuania)