Freed Villalobos Corrales hopes his appearance at Tokyo 2020 can spur the growth of Para judo in Peru ©Getty Images

Peru’s first-ever judoka to appear at a Paralympic Games, Freed Villalobos Corrales, hopes his Tokyo 2020 presence can accelerate the growth of the sport in the country.

Villalobos Corrales featured in the men’s under-81-kilogram division at the Nippon Budokan at the Games, losing to Cuba’s Gerardo Rodríguez Reyes in the round of 16.

He took up judo in 2015 after discovering the sport at university, and was the first Peruvian Para judoka to appear at the World Championships in Odivelas in Portugal in 2018.

A year later, Villalobos Corrales become the first competitor from his country to win a judo medal at the Parapan American Games in Peru’s capital Lima with a bronze in the men’s under-81kg.

The Peruvian made further history this summer at Tokyo 2020, and hopes his example will pave the way for future entrants to major competitions from his country.

"Judo in Peru will grow, it will improve," he was quoted as say by the International Paralympic Committee website.

"I have started something and there will be more people coming after me."

Coach Daniel Vizcarra added that Villalobos Corrales’ appearance at the Games was crucial for the future viability of the sport in Peru, after the judoka's medal at Lima 2019 marked the beginning of a project.

"The programme in Paralympic judo is very small," Vizcarra commented.

Freed Villalobos Corrales earned Peru's first-ever Parapan American Games judo medal at Lima 2019 ©Getty Images
Freed Villalobos Corrales earned Peru's first-ever Parapan American Games judo medal at Lima 2019 ©Getty Images

"Freed is the only one.

"He is the first in history and it is very important to have the first judoka here [in Tokyo]."

Villalobos Corrales is also targeting an appearance at the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024.

"I want to continue for a longer time," he remarked.

"I can still improve.

"I have been in judo only for a few years, so I can improve more.

"I started when I was 27.

"Judo was one of the sports they had as a choice in university and ever since I tried it, I liked it a lot.

"I like the discipline of it, the philosophy and how it teaches you to respect your opponents."

The men’s under-81kg judo event at Tokyo 2020 was won by Huseyn Rahimli of Azerbaijan, who beat Uzbekistan’s Davurkhon Karomatov in the final.

Azerbaijan topped the overall Paralympic judo medals table with six golds, while Uzbekistan and Iran both won two.

The sport first appeared at the Paralympic Games at Seoul 1988, and has featured at every edition since.