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Shahana Hajiyeva claims Paralympic gold for Azerbaijan
Shahana Hajiyeva claims Paralympic gold for Azerbaijan
27 Aug 2021 21:15
IBSA Sport
Rafal Burza - IBSA Sport

A brutal clash between women’s up to 52kg Paralympic champion Sandrine Martinet of France and Azerbaijan’s Shahana Hajiyeva saw an emotional end as Hajiyeva emerged the victor. Both women came very close to landing the decisive blow but neither could find the definitive edge. Hajiyeva did manage a point but her lead was fragile.

With 22 seconds to save her Paralympic title, Martinet turned up the heat. At four seconds left on the clock, the referee stopped the match and called for a video review before awarding Martinet with a point for her previous move. Hajiyeva looked mortified and had to face the Golden Score.

The 21-year-old Azeri had to find something. As Martinet refused to give up without a fight, Hajiyeva was awarded the ippon after another video review for turning the Frenchwoman. Martinet appeared heartbroken whilst Hajiyeva wrapped herself in her country’s flag.

“I’m very happy to be a Paralympic champion at this young age,” Hajiyeva said.

“I always had hopes for that and I knew that if I put everything into coming here, I will put my everything to go to the top after this. There was no other way but that.

“This will always be a motivation for me and I believe that I would be able to repeat it and I really want to repeat it in the Paris [2024] Paralympics as well.”

Martinet, despite her initial upset, later felt more optimistic: “It’s so great to have this kind of medal in my life. I love it. I’m very proud. I was competing in a different (weight) category. It’s a difficult challenge, it’s a great day.

“Even though my children were not waiting for this one, it will be so beautiful for them.”

Russian Paralympic Committee’s (RPC) Viktoriia Potapova collected her latest Paralympic medal with bronze. Potapova showed her experience with an excellent choke hold on Chinese Taipei’s Kai Lin Lee.

“This is my third bronze. It took a lot of hard work to get here, not even four years, but five years. It was a very difficult time, not just for me, but for everyone” Potapova said, referencing the long days away from her daughter as she trained for Tokyo 2020.

“I really wanted gold, I so badly wanted gold, but it was destined to be bronze and that’s a sign that we need to compete for gold at Paris [2024] and further.”

Having beaten China’s defending Paralympic champion for a place in the bronze medal match, London 2012 silver medallist Lee Lin just missed a return to the podium.

The second bronze went to Ukraine’s Yuliia Ivanytska for her third Paralympic medal.