Tina Trstenjak, left, and Urška Žolnir with EJU President Laszlo Toth ©EJU/Gabi Juan

The European Judo Union (EJU) has held its annual Gala Dinner in Slovenia this year, honouring an Olympic gold medallist and a renowned coach at the ceremony held in Ljubljana.

Representatives from 46 National Federations were in attendance along with EJU partners.

President of the Pan American Judo Confederation Carlos Zegarra Presser also attended the EJU Congress for the first time, held prior to the dinner.

László Tóth, President of the EJU, spoke highly of the Slovenian organisers and the change of atmosphere in the community in recent months.

"The EJU Congress showed us in the best possible way the strength of judo friendship that overcomes all obstacles and closely connects judoka from various destinations all over the world," he said. 

"I am glad to see us all united here at this solemn celebration of European Judo. 

"Thank you to the President of the National Federation of Slovenia, Mr. Lovrencij Galuf, for hosting us. 

"It is an exceptional honour, that we can end this successful year in such a beautiful way."

The Gala Dinner recognised brilliance too, with the Best of the Best Award going to EJU director and London 2012 champion Urška Žolnir from Slovenia. 

Tina Trstenjak, left, and Urška Žolnir at the ceremony ©EJU/Gabi Juan
Tina Trstenjak, left, and Urška Žolnir at the ceremony ©EJU/Gabi Juan

Joining her with that honour was coach Marjan Fabjan, whose honour was accepted on behalf of him by Tina Trstenjak, who won gold at Rio 2016.

"This is the special promotion of the country, it's not just us," said Žolnir upon receiving the accolade.

"We spread the values of judo over Slovenia and abroad."

The EJU Fair Play Award was won by Bogdan Gabrovec, who was also the recipient of the Tokyo Plaque, a sign of his work in the judo community.

Also receiving the plaque were President of the Serbian Olympic Committee Božidar Maljković, President of the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee Anton Siekel and International Judo Federation education director Sanda Čorak.

British Judo's Colin Draycott became a ninth dan, also receiving the EJU Golden Order of Merit alongside Jean-Luc Rouge.

Patrick van Kalken, Jacqueline van Kalken and Stefan Kneitinger were also given Tokyo Plaques, while Galuf was awarded the Jigoro Kano Plaque, named after the founder of judo.