The UAE will pin their hopes on a pair of experienced judokas, Victor Scvortov and Ivan Remarenco, for a possible shot at a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to be held from July 23-August 8. It was in judo that UAE won their only medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics when Sergiu Toma claimed a bronze in the men’s 81kg event.
Earlier this month, the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAENOC) had named six athletes for the pandemic-delayed spectacle, in which the other athletes are young swimmer Yousuf Al Matrooshi (100 metres freestyle), sprinter Hassan Al Noubi (100 metres), discus thrower Fatima Al Hosani and skeet shooter Saif Bin Futtais.
The UAE have two Olympic medals so far, with Sheikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Hasher Al Maktoum landing them a gold medal at the double trap event in shooting in Athens 2004. Another high point came in London 2012 when the UAE national football team qualified for the Games under the guidance of Emirati coach Mehdi Ali.
The Moldovan trio of Toma, Scvortov and Remarenco had been naturalised citizens of the UAE since 2013 and have substantial international experience to challenge for a model at the highest level. Scvortov, now 33, a bronze medallist at the 2014 World Judo Championships and at 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, will defend UAE colours in the 73kg category on July 26.
Remarenco, a bronze medallist at the 2014 World Judo Championships, will participate in the over 100-kg event on July 30.
Soon after the Olympics were postponed last year due to the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Scvortov and Remarenco headed back to Moldova to continue with their training since March last year. “The show must go on and we have to continue with our preparations towards the Olympics in future,” Scvortov had told Gulf News in an interview.
Shooter Saif Bin Futtais will kickstart the UAE campaign in Tokyo in the skeet shooting competition on July 25.
Al Matrooshi, the 18-year-old swimmer had, in a recent interview, said he was looking at Tokyo as a learning experience ahead of other premier international events, including the Fina World Swimming Championships, to be held in Abu Dhabi in December. “Olympics will be an important experience that will help develop my skills,” he said.
Meanwhile, UAE’s international volleyball referee, Hamed Mohammed Al Russi Al Hammadi, has been invited to join the management team for volleyball matches at the Tokyo Games.
Ahmed Al Tayeb, Director of the Technical and Sports Affairs of the UAENOC, will be heading the 18-member UAE delegation, including six athletes, at the Games.