Nearly 300 judoka from more than 40 countries will compete for titles at the 2018 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo World Championships in Odivelas, Portugal, from 16-18 November.
The biggest Worlds in the history of the sport will be shown live at IBSA Judo’s Facebook
page and IBSA’s YouTube channel
from 10am GMT. Commentary will come from Georgian Olympian Esther Stam.
Live results will be available at www.ippon.org
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Amongst the record number of athletes are a host of defending champions, Paralympic gold medallists and regional title holders as well as new faces who have made an impact on the World Cup stage in 2018.
Ehsan Mousanezhad Karmozdi is flying high after beating South Korea’s Paralympic champion Gwan Geun Choi in the men’s up to 100kg at the recent Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Iranian has only been competing in judo since 2017 and was previously a powerlifter. In his first competitive year he claimed gold at the IBSA Judo Asian Championships, whilst Choi switched up to the over 100kg.
For Odivelas 2018 Choi will return to the lower weight category. Georgia's Zviad Gogotchuri, the men’s up to 90kg Paralympic champion, has made the move to the up after winning gold at Rio 2016.
Great Britain’s European champion Chris Skelley is also aiming to be amongst the medals in the highly competitive event:
“I like to beat everyone but obviously I want to beat the likes of [Zviad] Gogotchuri and [Gwang Geun] Choi. I want to take them scalps this time and prove that I really am of this level and show the world I’m here to stay.”
Credit: Mike Varey
Algeria’s Nora Moloud, the Beijing 2008 Paralympic champion, will try to retain his gold from the 2014 World Championships in the men’s up to 60kg.
Uzbekistan’s Sherzod Namozov is a rival to Nora. Since claiming bronze behind the Algerian four years ago, Namozov has dominated. He has taken a Paralympic title and several World Cup wins.
As Japan prepare to host the next Paralympic Games, 13 of the country’s best judoka will line-up.
These include Satoshi Fujimoto who inspired a generation with his Paralympic golds from Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. After silver at Beijing 2008 and sitting-out London 2012, Fujimoto returned to the mat for Rio 2016 and showed he can still challenge for the podium with bronze in the men’s up to 66kg.
Makoto Hirose also left Rio with silver in the men’s up to 60kg, equalling his performance from Athens 2004.
France’s Sandrine Martinet finally got a much celebrated gold in the women’s up to 52kg at Rio 2016 – her fourth Paralympics. Since then Martinet has dropped down to the women’s up to 48kg. She continued her winning form at the World Cup in Atyrau after returning from a two year break.
Credit: OIS Photos
“If the injuries leave me alone I have all my chances at the World Championships. And I want to score maximum points,” Martinet said.
China’s Li Liqing could get in Martinet’s way as the defending champion. At 25-years-old, Liqing is also the Paralympic title holder.
But the Chinese judoka dropped down the order at the 2018 Asian Para Games. Liqing settled for bronze, losing out to eventual victor South Korea’s Soohee Choi in the semi-final.
Venezuela’s Naomi Soazo is another seasoned athlete who returns from a hiatus. The 29-year-old became her country’s first and only Paralympic champion in any sport at Beijing 2008, and secured bronze in Rio.
After taking time out to have a son, Soazo will take on Mexico’s Paralympic title holder Lenia Ruvalcaba in the women’s up to 70kg. The USA’s Christella Garcia is also in the hunt for her first Worlds medal in the weight category. The judoka has moved from the over 70kg where she won bronze at Rio 2016.
Not content with her world and Paralympic title from the women’s up to 57kg from the last cycle, Ukraine’s Inna Cherniak began competing in the up to 52kg in late 2017. Since making the switch the 30-year-old has been unstoppable, winning at three World Cups.
Priscilla Gagne will make her World Championships debut as the Pan American champion in the up to 52kg from May this year. Gagne also picked up silver at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
Credit: Rafal Burza
The draw for the 2018 IBSA Judo World Championships takes place on Thursday (15 November) ahead of the first day of competition on Friday. As well as world titles, the competition is also a chance for judoka to secure points towards the world rankings, which will determine who qualifies for Tokyo 2020.
The full schedule is available here.
All events will take place at the Pavilhão Multiusos de Odivelas from 16-18 November.
An international training camp will follow from 19-21 November which will be led by Sensei Ki-Young Jeong, South Korea’s Olympic champion from Atlanta 1996.