Liliia Khuzina, second left, became the first Russian competing as a neutral to top the podium at the World Taekwondo Championships ©World Taekwondo

Liliia Khuzina became the first individual neutral athlete to win a gold at the World Taekwondo Championships here, in front of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.

The IOC's decision to lift a recommended outright ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes has led to several sports including taekwondo allowing their return, provided they do not support the war in Ukraine and are not affiliated to the military.

This has proved controversial while the conflict is ongoing, and Ukraine's Government has vowed the country will boycott all Paris 2024 Olympic qualifying events where there is a Russian and Belarusian presence, including the World Championships in Azerbaijan's capital.

Two individual neutral athletes had already medalled at the World Championships, as well as two from Russia.

However, 20-year-old Russian Khuzina's victory over Brazilian world number two Caroline Santos made her the first to take gold.

She took the first round 6-2 and the second 8-6 for gold.

Khuzina won all of her matches in two rounds except the semi-final against Britain's Aaliyah Powell, in which she had to recover from losing the first round 9-6.

Wins by 11 points to three and seven to nil sent her into the final and forced Powell to settle for a third bronze medal at the World Championships.

Croatia's Marko Golubić, left, won his men's under-74kg final against Stefan Takov of Serbia, right ©World Taekwondo
Croatia's Marko Golubić, left, won his men's under-74kg final against Stefan Takov of Serbia, right ©World Taekwondo

World number six Feruza Sadikova of Uzbekistan completed the podium, earning bronze for the second year running after losing in three rounds to Santos.

Defending champion Sarah Chaari of Belgium was among the athletes beaten by Khuzina en route to victory, the neutral athlete triumphing in the quarter-final 9-6 and 3-1.

Croatia's Marko Golubić was the day's other winner, triumphing in three rounds against Stefan Takov of Serbia in the men's under-74kg.

Golubić edged the first round 4-3, before world number four Takov replied 8-6 in the second,

The deciding round finished level at 8-8 after a late flurry from Takov, but Golubić triumphed on hits to take gold.

Golubić had impressed with his heavy scoring in the semi-final against Australia's Leon Sejranovic, triumphing 21-4 and 15-9.

Sejranovic had beaten the defending champion Daniel Quesada Barrera of Spain in three rounds in the round of 16.

Kadyrbech Daurov, an individual neutral athlete from Russia, was the other medallist after reaching the semi-finals, where he lost 6-2 and 8-6 to Takov.

The World Taekwondo Championships are set to conclude tomorrow with the men's over-87kg and women's under-53kg.