Japan's Misato Nakamura earned her third world title after a tense final ©IJF

Japan’s Misato Nakamura earned her third world title after triumphing in the women’s under 52 kilogram final at the 2015 World Judo Championships here today, her victory forcing Romania’s Andreaa Chitu to settle for silver for a second successive year.

With two-time defending champion Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo absent through injury, all eyes were to see if Chitu could make the step to the top of the podium at a World Championships, just as she had done at the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, in June.

The world number one, though, faced another Kosovan challenge early in her campaign as 19-year-old rising star Distria Krasniqi, winner of the Samsun Grand Prix, presented her with her trickiest assignment in the opening rounds.

As expected,  it proved to be a closely fought affair but Chitu extended her unbeaten record against the teenager after Krasniqi was given a shido penalty during a golden score period, following a stalemate at the close of their five-minute bout.

A semi-final victory over Turkmenistan’s Gulbadam Babamuratova, chasing her country’s first ever medal at these Championships, saw Chitu advance into the final, where she met Nakamura.

The Japanese star had beaten the recently crowned Pan American Games champion Erika Miranda in her sem-final with a waza-ari proving the difference between the two as she looked to add to her triumphs at the 2009 and 2011 Championships.

With both Chitu and Nakamura performing to such a high standard the final was always likely to settled by the narrowest of margins and so it proved, Chitu falling at the final hurdle once more after receiving more shido penalties.

Brazil’s Miranda secured her second consecutive World Championship bronze medal after a shido penalty victory over Italy’s Odette Giuffrida, while Darya Skrypnik ended Babamuratova's medal hopes in the division by performing a ko-uchi-gari for ippon.

South Korea's Baul An defeated Russia's Mikhail Pulyeav to win the men's under 66kg title
South Korea's Baul An defeated Russia's Mikhail Pulyeav to win the men's under 66kg title ©Getty Images

The men’s under 66kg competition saw several huge shocks during the rounds, in particular the departure of Japan’s Masashi Ebinuma, who had ended as the winner in the last three World Championships.

Ebinuma had appeared in control of his tie with Uzbekistan’s Rishod Sobriov but, as he went to throw his opponent, Sobriov launched a stunning counter-attack to pin the three-time defending champion to the ground for a match-winning ippon, stunning the crowd.

It was the conclusion of a dramatic few minutes which also saw the departure of last year’s runner-up and reigning European champion Kamal Magemdov of Russia at the hands of South Korea’s Baul An, as well as the number one seed, Ukraine's Georgii Zantaraia, falling to Israel’s’ Goland Pollock.

An and Sobriov then met in a battle of the giant-killers as they aimed to display their title winning credentials and it was An who progressed though the tie and continued his run to the final.

The South Korean, the 2013 world junior champion, took on last year’s runner-up Mikhail Pulyeav in the final and he consigned the Russian to a second straight defeat after he was penalised for inactivity during the golden score.

"I am so happy, I really can't believe it,” An said.

“I have to thank my coach and all of the team who have helped me to achieve this.

“I can't describe how I feel, the gold medal is what I always dreamed of and I am ecstatic."

Brazil's Joao Derly (centre) was announced as an IJF Ambassador by their President Marius Vizer (left)
Brazil's Joao Derly (centre) was announced as an IJF Ambassador by their President Marius Vizer (left) ©IJF

Both Sobriov and Pollock were rewarded for their impressive performances and upsets by each claiming a bronze.

Sobriov defeated the host country's Yeldos Zhumakanov with a waza-ari, while Pollock performed scored with a yuko to defeat Mongolia’s Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj.

The day also saw International Judo Federation (IJF) President Marius Vizer and Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco make a special presentation in front of a packed crowd to two-time world champion Joao Derly, announcing Brazilian was becoming an IJF Ambassador.

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