By Mike Rowbottom
March 25 - Ben Quilter has underlined his intention to make a mark at the 2012 Paralympics by becoming the first British visually impaired world judo champion in 12 years.
The 28-year-old from Brighton earned gold in the -60kg category on the first day of the IBSA VI World Championships being held in Antalya, Turkey.
It was a career-best performance for Quilter, who has twice finished fifth at the worlds, and who also earned European bronze in 2005.
He is only the fifth Brit ever to hold the title - the last being Simon Jackson in 1998.
Immediately after stepping off the rostrum, Quilter said: "I feel really proud to be at the top of the rostrum with the other medallists - all Beijing Paralympic medal winners.
"This feels out of this world!
"This has put me in good stead for the 2012 Paralympic Games and really boosted my confidence.
"Along with my gold medal at the VI German Open, I couldn’t have had a better start to the year.
"I hope to keep the momentum, keep getting better, and do the same in two years time in London."
Quilter, who trains at the British Judo Performance Institute in Dartford, was not put off by having to fight the opening fight of the tournament.
He swiftly dispatched his Venezuelen opponent with an efficient shime-waza on the ground within the first half a minute.
His second fight saw his opponent, Staselka of Belarus, being disqualified for repeated defensive play.
Progressing to the quarter-final, Quilter faced Zasyadkovych of Ukraine.
The fight was close, with both players scoring, but Quilter held on to win a place in the semi-final with his superior waza-ari score against the Ukrainian’s yuko.
In the semi-final, Quilter faced his old rival, Beijing Paralympic bronze medallist Ramin Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan.
After getting thrown for a yuko score against him, he kept his focus and threw Ibrahimov for ippon to end the contest.
Talking of his win against Ibrahimov, Quilter said: "I was really pleased to beat him in the semi-final, he has beaten me at both the Paralympic Games and at the Europeans before, so I was chuffed."
In the final, Quilter earned his world crown in style throwing then holding down his opponent Eigdar Habiboll of Iran.
Paralympic Programme Manager, Dave Sanders said: "This a fantastic result, a result that has come from all the hard work and dedication that Ben has put in.
"He dominated the weight category, showing great skill and will put him in great stead, guaranteeing Ben as one of the top seeds in London 2012."
Margaret Hicks, British Judo's Performance Director, said, "Not only did Ben win the World title, but the manner in which he won every fight was world class."