London: The UAE’s Olympic challenge in the judo competition ended barely minutes after it began as Humaid Al Derei lost in the first round of the men’s 66kg at the ExCel here on Sunday.
Fighting from the blue corner and pitted against the Egyptian champion Ahmad Awad, the UAE judoka was no match for the world number 10. Awad was on the attack from the start and a straightforward grip twisted Al Derei’s elbow giving him no chance for any movement thereon.
“There was nothing I could do against him as his grip was too tight. I tried my best, but I also knew that I was up against a champion. He was the much better fighter and he deserved to be in the next round,” Al Derei told Gulf News after being attended to by the doctors at the ExCel venue.
“Personally, this is the moment I have waited for all my life as a sportsman,” Al Derei added.
“We need to be realistic. For a country like ours to be able to just compete in an Olympic Games is a huge achievement and I am glad that I have achieved this in judo for the UAE.”
His coach Taimur Mohammad Khanov of Uzbekistan was all praise for his student.
“He worked hard to qualify and get so far. He was up against the best of the best from across the world and I think he tried his best to get a win,” Khanov said noting the injury to his elbow did not help much.
“We can’t afford to look behind here,” the coach added.
“It is time to look to the future and I am sure the UAE Judo Association will continue doing the work they are doing with the youngsters.”
Asked to explain the conclusion of the fight in the first round itself, Khanov said that he expected Al Derei to be more defensive and attack his opponent from the back.
“But the Egyptian is a clever fighter and he saw the attack coming. So he just took the fight to the mat,” Khanov said.