Van Lieshout claims first Dutch world judo title in 63kg class

Joanne van Lieshout defeated Poland's Angelika Szymanska in the final. Photo: EPA/Ali Haider via ANP

The Netherlands has its first women’s judo world champion in 15 years after Joanne van Lieshout won the 63kg title in Abu Dhabi.

The 21-year-old from Noord-Brabant beat Poland’s Angelika Szymanska in the final, after knocking out the world number one, Canada’s Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard, in the semi-finals.

She is the first Dutch woman to win a world title since Marhinde Verkerk in 2009 and the first ever in her weight class. The last men’s champion was Noël van ‘t End in 2019.

Van Lieshout said winning the title was a “surprise”, but it confirmed her status as one of the sport’s rising stars. She won bronze in last year’s championships in Qatar and has twice been a world champion at junior level.

“I woke up this morning feeling really good and ready to go, so to end the day like this is brilliant,” she said.

The other Dutch contender in the 63kg category, Geke van den Berg, lost in the first round to Venezuela’s Anriquelis Barrios, while in the men’s 81kg competition Frank de Wit was disqualified for stepping off the mat.

The world championship is the last major tournament before the Dutch Judo Federation selects its team for the Olympic Games next week. Only one competitor is allowed per country in each class.

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