Golden moment: Russia's Arman Adamian celebrates after defeating Czech Republic's Lukas Krpalek
Doha (AFP) - Russia’s Arman Adamian won a world judo title on Friday at the first major international team competition to welcome back Russian and Belarusian athletes since last year’s invasion of Ukraine.
Adamian, taking part under a neutral flag, defeated Lukas Krpalek of the Czech Republic in the men’s -100kg final.
Ukraine pulled its team from the event in Doha last week over the presence of Russian team members it argued were active soldiers.
After Adamian’s victory, which he only secured in overtime, the Russian flag was replaced on the medals podium by a flag displaying instead the logo of the competition.
The International Judo Federation (IJF) official music replaced the Russian anthem.
“I feel very good, I can’t wait to speak to my family on the phone to celebrate with them,” Adamian said, speaking in Russian through a translator.
On his emotions, standing on the podium, he added: “I just enjoyed my victory and listened to the IJF anthem.”
The IJF has allowed Russian and Belarusian judokas to take part in these championships as neutral competitors, having previously banned them after the invasion of Ukraine.
That decision followed a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee.
Eight Russians were banned from the tournament but the IJF insisted that none were athletes.
The judokas taking part are not allowed to have Russian colours on their outfits, instead they bear the letters “AIN” on the back to signify “Individual Neutral Athletes”.
Other competitors display the letters of their country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was honorary president and international ambassador of the IJF from 2008 until he was suspended from the post in 2022.
In September 2022, judo was one of the last sports to exclude Russians and Belarusians from its competitions.
Elsewhere on Friday, Israel’s Inbar Lanir defeated Audrey Tcheumeo of France in the final of the -78kg.