Florentino wins historic men’s world medal for Dominican Republic
Robert Florentino became the first male World Judo Championships medallist for the Dominican Republic. The 20-year-old is based in Valencia, Spain, in order to compete regularly throughout Europe and to develop his judo as he prepares to join the senior circuit next year.
Florentino defeated Georgian, Croatian, Uzbek and French opponents and scored four waza-ari and ippon during that riveting run which added his country to the list of medal winners.
The youngster lost out to Tajima Goki (JPN) in the final but was still ecstatic to see his flag raised to the rafters and to achieve a first for his country after a superb display. “I started judo when I was seven years old after trying out boxing and baseball,” said Florentino.
Junior Pan American Championships winner Florentino lost out to Hungary's Toth Krisztian at the senior Worlds in August. “I enjoyed the physicality of judo when I started in my local club and it quickly became my passion. When I was 15 I started to travel with judo to compete abroad and from the first moment I loved representing the Dominican Republic.
“At the age of 17 I felt that judo would become my full-time career, this was when I really felt that I could capture medals at top events for my country.”
Florentino is one of a host of Spanish-speaking judoka from the Americas who have flourished by honing their craft at Valencia Judo Club, home to long-time Spanish internationals Sugoi Uriarte and Laura Gomez (ESP) who were both present in Zagreb.
“I have to thank my teammates here, everyone at home and everyone in Valencia who have helped me to this medal today. I am happy to be part of the club in Valencia and I feel at home there. I now look forward to competing at senior events next year and I really want to be at the 2018 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“My dream is to win the Olympic Games. I am committed to this and will do everything I can to be there in Japan at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”