ABU DHABI // The UAE are banking on Sergiu Toma and Victor Scvortov to reach the medal rounds after both local judokas at the Grand Slam Abu Dhabi failed to progress beyond the first round on Friday.
Toma, a bronze medallist at the Rio Games, and fellow Olympian Scvortov, will be in action on Saturday at the Zayed Sports City’s Ipic Arena.
Toma faces Brazilian Rafael Macedo in the 81-kilogram class and Scvortov meets Luis Carmo of Portugal in the 73kg. “They are our best medal hopes,” general secretary of the UAE Wrestling, Judo and Kick Boxing Federation Naser Al Tamimi said.
The UAE has entered four men and three women in the competition that has 14 gold medals up for grabs.
“The Emirati women judokas are making their debut in a Grand Slam and it will be more of an experience for them,” Al Tamimi said. “Our social media after the Olympic Games has grown.
“We had more than 120, 0000 followers ahead of the Grand Slam, which is showing that judo is growing in the community. We have more than 16 training centres across the country and more than 800 judokas.”
Sara Abdulla, the first of the three Emirati women to go into action, did not last more than a minute against Briton Chelsie Giles in the 52-kg division.
Khalifa Al Hosani also made a first-round exit in the men’s 66kg after going up against the eventual silver medallist Azamat Mukanov of Kazakhstan.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam is the fourth International Judo Federation event of the 2016 season and marks the return of a number of Rio 2016 medallists who will compete for the first time since Olympics in Brazil.
The World Judo Tour has stopped in Croatia (Zagreb Grand Prix) and Uzbekistan (Tashkent Grand Prix) following the Rio Games and has now arrived in Abu Dhabi for the penultimate Grand Slam of the year.
The opening day’s four medals were shared by four different countries.
Francisco Garrigos of Spain won the gold in the men’s 60kg from Brazilian Eric Takabatake, with Cedric Revol of France settling for Bronze after victory over Russian Robert Mshvidobadze.
Yakub Shamilov took the second gold for men in the 66kg, by getting the better of Kazakhstan’s Azamat Mukanov.
Charles Chibana of Brazil bagged the bronze from Andraz Jereb of Slovenia.
In the women’s event, the Olympic bronze medallist Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh of Kazakhstan (48kg) retained her Abu Dhabi title and Astride Gneto of France (52kg) upset top-seeded American Angelica Delgado in the final.
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