This week the IBSA World Games in Birmingham includes the World Judo Championships. The tournament is the highlight of the year for para judo and that is clear in the participation numbers. A total of 236 athletes from 42 countries entered the competition and are battling for 16 individual and 2 team gold medals.

On just day one of the tournament, we saw a first ever gold medal for Portugal and a first ever world medal for India. The seven gold medals of the first day were distributed between seven nations: Portugal, Uzbekistan, Türkiye, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Romania and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The fact that new countries are winning medals and the gold medals are shared, is more proof of the growth of para judo and shows that support from the International Judo Federation is paying off.

Highlights, Day 1 Kamil Parmar of India made the first big mark today by picking up a bronze medal in the J1 -60 kg category. He already wrote history earlier this year by winning a grand prix of Egypt, picking up a first ever para judo medal for India. After winning a silver medal at the IBSA Asian Championships, he today secured his role as a favourite for a medal at the Paralympic Games next year. In the same category, Miguel Vieira proved to be the strongest competitor of the day. After being crowned European champion just two weeks ago, he picked up a first ever world gold medal for Portugal today.

There were two big surprises today in the men’s categories. The Georgian Nukri Migrijanashvili had the best day of his career so far, beating all of his opponents in the J2 -60 kg category, including number one seed Thiego da Silva of Brazil. In the final, he gave Kemran Nurillaev (UZB) a hard time, but came up a bit short of winning the world title. Zhu Shiwen of the People’s Republic of China was the other surprising finalist of the day, in the J1 -60 kg category. He dethroned last year’s champion Seyed Meysam Banitaba Khorram Abadi of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the semi-final, before picking up a silver medal.

Florin Alexandru Bologa of Romania is one of the biggest stars of para judo. The European champion picked up two Paralympic bronze medals when the categories of vision were not split yet. Since the split of the categories, Bologa has competed in the J1 -73 kg category, for the blind and almost completely blind, and has been a favourite ever since. After picking up a bronze medal at last year’s championships, he could finally reward himself with a big title today, beating former world champion Yergali Shamey of Kazakhstan in a tense final.

Besides the surprises and firsts, there were four athletes who proved that you can stay on top. Nataliya Nikolaychyk of Ukraine, Akmaral Nauatbek of Kazakhstan, Zeynep Celik of Turkey and Vahid Jeddi of Iran all showed really strong judo today. They will be the top favorites for Paralympic titles next year.

Janos Tardos, IBSA Judo Chairman, took note of the French team today too. As the hosts of the Paralympic Games next year, he sees that the team is working hard in their preparation. “Today Nathan Petit won a medal in one of the hardest categories, J2 -73 kg. Also Sandrine Aurieres Martinet, a Paralympic champion, picked up a bronze medal today. France will have more chances on day two, showing that they are making progress ahead of next year.”

After a long first day, with both new and defended world championship titles, there are 9 individual gold medals left to allocate and decide which nation will end up on top of the medal table.

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