Odivelas 2018: Top four moments

Biggest Judo World Championships conclude in Portugal

female judoka Alana Maldonado raises her arms to the ceiling in victory Alana Maldonado was one of the debut world champions crowned at Odivelas 2018 © • Rui Telmo

A record-breaking 2018 Judo World Championships came to an end in Odivelas, Portugal, on 18 November, with nearly 300 judokas from more than 40 countries competing.

Check out four of the top moments.

South Korea unstoppable

It was a successful World Championships for the South Korean team, who topped the overall medals table after winning a total of seven, including five golds.

Despite carrying an injury, Jung Min Lee overcame Azerbaijan’s Huseyn Rahimli to win the men’s up to 81kg title. “I had a serious knee injury but after I recovered, and with this being my first major tournament, I am so happy for winning the gold medal,” Lee said.

Song Lee Jin caused an upset by defeating Ukraine’s defending world champion Irinya Husieva in the women’s up to 63kg.

But the most surprising performance was delivered by Soohee Choi, who became the women’s up to 48kg world champion after beating two Paralympic champions in China’s Li Liqing and France’s Sandrine Martinet on her way to the final.

South Korea also claimed both team titles on offer.

Champions defeated

Azerbaijan's world and Paralympic champion Ramil Gasimov was the strongest candidate for gold in the men’s up to 73kg. But he lost to Uzbekistan’s debutant Feruz Sayidov and ended up having to settle for bronze.

Sayidov’s compatriot and Paralympic champion Sherzod Namozov did not meet expectations either as he was defeated in the preliminaries of the men’s up to 60kg.

After a much-celebrated gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Martinet returned to the tatamis this year looking to win her second world title. But she lost to rising star Choi in the preliminary rounds of the women’s up to 48kg and could only capture bronze.

First Worlds gold for Brazil

Brazilian Paralympic silver medallist Alana Maldonado spent most of the women’s up to 70kg final trying to resist Asian champion Vasila Aliboeva. And it seemed the Uzbek would go on to win the title.

But the tables turned when Maldonado just managed to topple her opponent and then hold her on the mat for an ippon and her first world title. “I still can’t believe it, because this was a very difficult time, a very difficult period. I still can’t believe I got the gold,” Maldonado said.

Debut winner for Iran

Asian Championships bronze medallist Mohammedreza Kheirollahzadeh took gold in the men’s over 100kg at his maiden World Championships.

The Iranian brought down his opponent Woohyeok Song of South Korea to the tatami for an ippon in the final, adding to the silver medal he won at this year’s Asian Para Games.

“I’m winning this for my nation and my people and with the help of God I was able to win,” Kheirollahzadeh said. “I’m happy with my performance but most of all I hope my coaches are happy with it. It was a very difficult competition and I was able to perform well.”

Full results are available on the Judo World Championships website.