Guwahati: Manipur’s 15-year-old judoka Linthoi Chanambam on Friday scripted history by clinching India’s first ever gold medal at the World Championships in Sarajevo. The teen sensation’s feat is the country first medal in any age-group category at the worlds.

At the ongoing World Cadet championships (for U-18 judokas), Linthoi was in an element of her own as she recorded four consecutive wins by Ippons before making it to the final of the 57kg category against Brazil’s Bianca Reis.

By then, history was made as no Indian judoka has ever reached a final of any World Championship.

However, for the Manipuri youngster, the hunger for the yellow metal continued as she dominated the proceedings against Reis in the summit clash. The Indian gained the upper hand with a waza-ari in the initial moments. Linthoi got a shido in the dying moments but managed to hold on to her 1-0 lead, thus ensuring her spot at the centre of the podium.

Linthoi’s medal holds more significance as no other Indian judoka has ever made a podium finish at any world championship, or the junior worlds.

Last month, Linthoi had announced her arrival at the continental level after grabbing the gold medal at the Asian Cadet and Junior Judo Championship 2022.

Hailing from a family of farmers in Imphal, Linthoi is one of the very few judokas to be part of the union sports ministry’s flagship Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme. The TOPs programme is mostly meant for elite athletes, who are considered as Olympics medal prospects.

For the past five years, Linthoi, the 2017 sub-junior national championship gold medallist, has been away from her native place, and mostly been training at the Inspire Institute of Sports in Bellary. She has been making rapid strides in the sport, topping the podium at National Cadet Judo Championship last year. She also took a bronze at the Asia-Oceania Cadet Judo Championship, held in Beirut, in 2021.

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