"It was sensational to compete in Rio with my whole family, it will be sensational to compete where judo was born"
Brazil’s Alana Maldonado is targeting a title on her Judo World Championships debut in Odivelas, Portugal, in November to add to her Paralympic silver from Rio 2016.
Speaking with two years to go until the next Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, Maldonado was in a buoyant mood about the Worlds.
“I look forward to this very important Championship for me, I will do my best to be champion,” she said.
The World Championships will be held from 16-18 November and offers points towards qualification for Tokyo 2020.
Maldonado is also conscious that they represent the best chance to assess her competition.
“It is the strongest Championship in the cycle before Tokyo, in which the categories are complete, where several fights will be held, where we will have a parameter for Tokyo,” she said.
Competing at judo's birthplace
Having been inspired to start judo at the age of four, influenced by her grandmother and family, Maldonado has a deep passion for the sport.
The chance to compete at a Paralympics in Japan, the birthplace of judo, is, for Maldonado, equal to competing at a home Paralympic Games.
“Japan is the land of judo and just as it was sensational to compete in Rio with my whole family, it will be sensational to compete where judo was born,” she said.
With the women’s -70kg being highly competitive, Maldonado believes that all of her opponents will be difficult to beat.
At Rio 2016, the Brazilian lost to Mexico’s Lenia Ruvalcaba, the bronze medallist from the 2014 World Championships.
Earlier in 2018 she claimed second place at the World Cup in Antalya, Turkey. Maldonado was beaten to first by Russia’s* Olga Zabrodskaya but showed that two years out from Rio 2016, she is still able to challenge for the podium.
“It's a sport that I love to do, and I do not see myself doing anything other than judo,”
“It is my life. I have improved that every day. I overcome obstacles and am always trying to give my best.”
Judo will see nearly 140 athletes compete for honours in 13 weight categories.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 https://www.paralympic.org/russian-paralympic-committee-suspension for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.