Abu Dhabi: Sergiu Toma, the UAE’s Olympic bronze medallist, couldn’t end the medals drought for the hosts on the final day of the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam at the Mubadala Arena on Monday.
Toma went down to Azerbaijan’s Mammadali Mehdiyev in the -90kg repechage contest for bronze. He had earlier lost out to Ukrainian Quedjau Ukrnhabali in the quarter-finals.
“It is disappointing to miss out on the medals, but I managed to get some qualifying points for the Olympics which was good,” said Toma after the fight which he lost by ippon (a full point).
Toma, who had beaten Yahor Varapayeu of Belarus in round one and Islam Bozbeyev of Kazakhstan in round two, said the need of the hour was to look ahead.
“I have to make sure to qualify and that’s what I’m bracing for. Olympic Games is my goal and to be there in the best of shape, is what I’m aiming at,” said Toma, accepting that there has been a decline in his performance since the bronze at 2016 Rio Olympics.
“No, not at all great, as in these two years I have achieved nothing at all. There is nothing to worry though this was a first positive step and I will be back at my peak soon. It is a start you can say on the road to Olympics,” said Toma, adding he is likely to go to Osaka, Japan for the last Grand Slam of the year.
“If I can’t make it to Osaka, I will definitely be there for the Paris Grand Slam in 2019. I will be working really hard for sure,” said Toma, whose compatriot Mihail Marchitan, another Moldovan-born judoka in fray in the same category also crashed out early.
Marchitan, who was in the top half of the draw, was shown the door by Ekaterinburg Grand Slam winner and top-seeded Serbian Aleksandar Kukolj in the first round itself.
The UAE also had a presence in the 100kg, but Ivan Remarenco also couldn’t get past the first hurdle and lost to Philipp Galandi of Germany.
“Yes, we couldn’t win a medal here, but we have to look ahead. Put this setback behind and move forward. All these boys are good enough to come back strongly and I’m confident they will. They will be ready in time for the Olympics because that’s our main goal,” said UAE’s assistant coach Eudzheniu Volk.