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Azerbaijani Judoka Crowned World Champion at 2024 Judo World Championships

By Timucin Turksoy May 22, 2024

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The 26-year-old judoka Hidayet Heyderov is now the second world champion in Azerbaijan’s judo history, following Elkhan Mammadov, who won the title in 2013. / Courtesy

Azerbaijani judoka Hidayat Heydarov has become the world champion at the 2024 Judo World Championships held in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

In the decisive round earlier this week, Heydarov defeated Tatsuki Ishihara from Japan in the 73-kg category to claim the title.

Despite being behind after Ishihara’s waza-ari score (the second highest score a judoka can achieve) with just 40 seconds left on the clock, Heydarov successfully executed an ippon technique (the highest score a judoka can achieve) in the last 10 seconds, winning the final match of the tournament, which concludes on May 23.

“I took the stage in the final match for victory. Also, I could not miss the final of the world championship. I was very motivated,” Heydarov told journalists, adding that his next goal is winning the 2024 Olympic Games.

The 26-year-old judoka is now the second world champion in Azerbaijan’s judo history, following Elkhan Mammadov, who won the title in 2013.

Hidayat Heydarov is one of judo’s rising stars. Ranked number one in the world in the men’s 73 kg category, he is almost unbeatable in major competitions.

Since the 2023 World Championships, where Heydarov finished fifth, he has suffered just two defeats and won six gold medals, including two continental titles. The world champion title was the only one missing from his collection.

His last defeat came in December 2023 against Kosovo’s Akil Gjakova, whom Heydarov faced as his first opponent in Abu Dhabi and defeated with two waza-aris.

In previous World Championships, Heydarov earned three bronze medals. His career is also highlighted by six gold and one silver medal from European Championships, one World Masters gold, and a title in the Islamic Games.