Tsukasa Yoshida of Japan arrived at the 2018 World Judo Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, as last year's defeated under 57kg finalist. Great Britain’s Nekoda Smythe-Davis would be her opponent in this year's final.
Yoshida, ensured she wasn’t dealt another final defeat. First she drove her British opponent over to score waza ari, then a second waza ari ended the match and meant redemption one year on.
Yoshida was overcome with emotion. Having come so close last year, her first world title was now a reality.
"Firstly I’m very happy, but at the same time I’m also relieved and actually, honestly, my mind at the moment has just gone completely blank," Tsukasa Yoshida said in an interview.
Korea’s An Changrim was the man on form in the under 73kg category. Spectacular Judo from him all day had the crowd on the edge of their seats, and after he overcame Mongolia’s Tsogtbaatar Tsend-Ochir in the quarter final, he secured his place in the final by armlocking Iran’s Mohammad Mohammadi. There he took on defending World champion Soichi Hashimoto of Japan, and there was a changing of the guard. An, spectacular yet again, scoring an emphatic ippon to end the contest and earn himself the world title in an incredible display of emotion and another first time world champion in Baku.
An received his medal from the President of the Azerbaijan Judo Federation Rovnag Abdullayev.
"I started judo because I wanted to be the world champion," said An Changrim in an interview. "I suffered many difficulties on the way to today. Even now, I cannot believe that this is real. After this year’s 18th Asian Games, I had a very difficult time, but I grew from that, and I am here today, because of that," he added.
A new icon of Azerbaijani judo
Azerbaijan’s Hidayat Heydarov gave the home crowd something to cheer about as he earned his country’s first medal of these championships as President Ilham Aliyev applauded from the stands. Heydarov was overjoyed: A moment that neither he nor the partisan crowd of ecstatic judo fans will ever forget.
And Azerbaijan’s two-time Paralympic champion Ilham Zakiyev gave the home fans even more to celebrate as he received his 7th Dan from IJF Head Sports DirectorVladimir Barta. A momentous day for the host nation.