By Nick Butler

Naomi Soazo of Venezuela celebrates winning under 63kg gold at Beijing 2008 ©Getty ImagesJudoka Naomi Soazo, Venezuela's first - and so far only - Paralympic gold medallist in any sport, has cut short her retirement plans in a bid to qualify for Rio 2016. 

As a teenager, she required just three seconds to defeat Spain's Marta Arce Payno and win the under 63 kilogram title at Beijing 2008.

Four years later at London 2012, she returned home empty-handed, losing out in a bronze medal contest against Brazil's Daniele Bernardes Mila.

But, earlier this year, the 25-year-old retired from high level sport after her doctor told her that her vision had been degenerating faster than expected because of the physical contact inherent to judo.

She described the decision as a "tough moment" that was "very difficult to deal with", before saying she was going to focus instead on the sport of cycling.

But she has now announced that she will return to judo.

"Judo is my life, my passion, and that is why I have decided to make my comeback after being retired for some months," Soazo said.

"My family and friends have always supported me.

"They encourage me all the time and have suggested that I should not give up."

Naomi Soazo (bottom) in action in the under 63kg bronze medal match at London 2012 ©Getty ImagesNaomi Soazo (bottom) in action in the under 63kg bronze medal match at London 2012 ©Getty Images

Soazo has missed the 2014 season since her return due to a grade-two right ankle sprain before suffering an elongation of the internal ligaments in her right knee.

This meant she missed the major event of the year, the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo World Championships, in Colorado Springs, where, in her absence, Iryna Husieva of Ukraine defeated Cuba's Dalidaivis Rodriguez Clark in the under 63kg final.

"This year has been extremely difficult for me," Soazo admitted.

"But I am still optimistic about qualifying for the Rio Paralympics.

"In 2015, I will do my best to get the necessary points to qualify for Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

"My main motivation is the huge desire I have to represent my country.

"I want to show all the people that dreams have no limits and that people who have an impairment can also be useful to their country, and besides, I want to encourage young kids to start practising a sport.

"The gold medal in Beijing was special, I was only 19-years-old when I won it and I felt great joy and pride.

"It would be a dream come true to have those sensations again, in Rio."

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