Abu Dhabi: UAE will be pinning hopes on Victor Scvortov, Mihail Maschitan and Ivan Remarenco at the 9th Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam that gets under way the IPIC Arena on Thursday.
Scvortov will be competing in the 73-kilogram weight division, Maschitan in the 90kg and Ivan Remarenco in 100kg. In all, 292 judokas will be competing 14 finals for both men and women. The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam is the fourth event on the calendar after Paris, Baku and Moscow. The fifth and final event will be held in Tokyo in December.
For the hosts, the major setback being the absence of Sergiu Toma, the bronze medallist at 2016 Rio Olympic, who is out with a back injury.
“It’s a small injury, but at this level, we can’t take any chances. His welfare is paramount for us and we have given him more time to recover because we are thinking on the long term, and perhaps, for the next Olympics,” said Nasser Al Tamimi, general secretary of the UAE Wrestling, Judo and Kick Boxing Federation.
“We still have seven judokas entered in the men’s divisions and hope we can win a medal or two. It’s tough of course, with the world’s top 25 and around 10 to 12 Olympic medallists arriving in Abu Dhabi.
“They have prepared well for this competition. They are capable of winning for us,” added Al Tamimi.
Aref Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, speaking on the occasion said: “In terms of international coverage we receive, judo is level with the Formula 1 at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, Abu Dhabi Cycling Tour and the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.”