Paralympic champion Guljonoy Naimova (UZB) once again got the best of 2017 world champion Amy Truesdale (GBR) – although this time it was far closer.
Naimova bested Truesdale in dominant fashion at the Paralympic Games to announce her arrival among the elite in the division. The +65 kg final at the 2021 World Championships confirmed this as a rivalry worth watching.
Truesdale was able to get past 2019 world champion Debora Menezes (BRA) in a captivating semi-final to set-up the salivating rematch.
In a back-and-forth encounter that showcased the athleticism of the division’s elite athletes, Naimova was able to pull ahead in the final minute to become Para Taekwondo’s only reigning World and Paralympic champion.
The expansion from three to five weight categories meant there were more opportunities for more athletes to become world champions. It was perhaps no more evident than in the -65 kg category, which featured just one former world champion in Seyma Emeksiz Bacaksiz (TUR).
Paralympic silver medalist Beth Munro was the favourite coming into the weekend, but her unexpected withdrawal left the division wide open.
Secil Er (TUR) took advantage and vaulted herself to near the top of the new division’s world rankings with a decisive 12-1 victory over Leylianne Ramos dos Santos (BRA) to capture her first world title.
Paralympic runner-up and 2015 world champion Ivan Mikulic (CRO) came up just short at his second straight tournament – and for the second straight time, he fell to an Iranian opponent.
Mikulic just missed out on Paralympic gold by falling to Asghar Azizi Aqdam 12-10 at Tokyo 2020. He was even closer in Istanbul, losing by Superiority after fighting to a draw with Hamed Haghshenas.
A perpetual ‘bride’s maid’, Magomedzagir Isaldibirov finally ‘tied the knot’ by winning his first world championship.
Source and image: www.worldtaekwondo.org