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Linthoi Chanambam first ever Indian to become Judo world champion

The 16-year-old judoka from Manipur won the gold medal at the World Cadet Judo Championships on Friday. This is India's first ever medal in any age-group at the World Championships.

Linthoi Chanambam first ever Indian to become Judo world champion

Judoka Linthoi Chanambam in action at the Cadet World Championships (IJF)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 27 Aug 2022 8:35 AM GMT

Linthoi Chanambam, a 16-year-old judoka from Manipur, won India's first ever gold medal in the history of the Judo World Championships in Sarajevo on Friday. Before this, no Indian judoka had won a single medal at any age-group of the World Championships across genders.

Coming up with a run of four back-to-back ippons to enter the final of the World Cadet Championships - for judokas of age 18 or less - Linthoi faced Brazil's Bianca Reis in the 57-kg category final on Friday evening, already having made history.

Linthoi took the early lead in the final with a waza-ari. She got a shido with seconds left on the clock but held out to win the match 1-0 and become the U18 world champion.

READ | Linthoi Chanambam: Little world champion's big history leaves world in shock

This was India's first ever medal at this tournament, coming in the seventh edition of the Cadet Worlds, since its first edition in 2009.

No Indian has won a medal at Junior Worlds (U-21) or in the Senior World Championships in Judo before this either, let alone become the world champion.

Linthoi, the most promising judoka from India in recent years, is one of the few athletes from her sport to be part of the Indian government's TOPS programme.

She has been training since 2017 at JSW's Inspire Institute of Sports judo programme after being spotted at the Sub-Junior National Judo Championships in 2017, where she won gold.

Last year, the young prodigy won the gold medal at the National Cadet Judo Championship, announcing herself as the country's best young judoka. She won a bronze in the Asia-Oceania Cadet Judo Championship in Beirut, Lebanon the same year. In July this year, Linthoi won a gold medal at the Asian Cadet & Junior Judo Championship 2022, her biggest win before this.

Linthoi Chanambam at the medal ceremony (International Judo Federation)

Coming from a family of farmers in Imphal, Linthoi has stayed away from home for the past five years honing her skills. She has been on several exposure trips under the guidance of IIS Judo Head Coach Mamuka Kizilashvili, including camps at the University of Tsukuba, in Japan, Georgia and most recently in Bosnia and Herzegovina ahead of the World Cadet Championships.

"I really don't have the words and cannot explain how I am feeling right now. I only know that I'm very happy with this victory, and I hope to build on this," said Chanambam after her feat.

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