21:50 / 11.06.2021.

Author: Katja Miličić

Matić captures first judo senior world title for Croatia

Barbara Matić

Barbara Matić

Foto: Luka Stanzl / PIXSELL

Croatia’s Barbara Matić made history on Thursday when she won the gold medal at the World Judo Championships in Budapest, Hungary. 

The 26-year-old Croatian defeated Ono Yoko of Japan in the 70kg category final to win a senior title for Croatia for the first time ever in the sport.

“I think this is the achievement I’ve been training for for 20 years. I’m going to remember this one. Not that my previous achievements were unworthy, but this is the crown of everything, along with the Olympics, which are coming up,” Matić told HRT.

Matić missed the European Championships due to COVID-19. She admits the virus did take its toll but “everything fell back into place” for the World Championships.

“I wasn’t worried before the final. I told myself I already had a medal, so everything is great and I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The fight was tough. I managed to get a few points but then the next 36 seconds were the longest of my life. She was choking me but I refused to surrender and managed to move my arm. Then I knew I would make it,” she said.

Matić, a Split-native, is a two-time world junior champion.

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