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Sergiu Toma convinces with home gold in Abu Dhabi
29 Oct 2016 19:25
United Arab Emirates judo hero Sergiu Toma was again the man of the moment for his country as he became the first UAE judoka to win a Grand Slam and he was able to do it where it matters the most, at his home event and in front of his federation and supporters. In 2013 when Abu Dhabi was still a Grand Prix Toma and Scvortov won.
Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Toma, 29, starred in Brazil as he won the second UAE Olympic medal and their first in judo. The United Arab Emirates hero only lost to eventual Olympic champion Khasan Khalmurzaev (RUS) in Rio and won bronze by defeating Matteo Marconcini (ITA) by ippon.
Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Toma opposed world bronze medallist Victor Penalber of Brazil in the final and they cancelled each other out initially with two shidos apiece after as many minutes. A driving te-waza movement with a minute left gave Toma a waza-ari and the home fans raised the volume in the IPIC Arena as their leading light made new history only two months after his Olympic heroics.
“Toma felt great pressure fighting here after the Olympics and he is already looking ahead to more challenges and winning more medals for the UAE. Thanks to our Olympic medal judo has been in the news, in the headlines and more and more people are talking about the sport here. There was a lot of public support already here for our athletes and now our goal is to make judo the top sport in the Emirates.”
In the first semi-final Toma thwarted former Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Frank De Wit of the Netherlands by ippon as the former took advantage of his opponent being off balance after a laboured attack and powered over the young Dutchman with 35 seconds remaining. De Wit was shaping up for a pick up but was not expecting such bold resistance and was unsteady as Toma took full advantage. In the second semi-final Penalber defeated former world silver medallist Srdjan Mrvaljevic (MNE) with a yuko after 44 seconds proving to be the only score of the contest as the attacks of the latter lacked intent.
The first bronze medal was won by 32-year-old stalwart Mrvaljevic who bested an out-of-sorts former Tyumen Grand Slam winner Ivan Vorobev (RUS). Mrvaljevic won his first IJF medal since his World Championships 2011 silver medal at the Tashkent Grand Prix two weeks ago when he won bronze and following that five-year wait the veteran won his second IJF medal in three weeks with a stylish sasae-tsurikomi-ashi earning a yuko which was the only score in the four minute contest.
The second bronze medal was De Wit who continues to emerge as one of the top prospects in this Olympic cycle. The 20-year-old, who is one of the leading hopes at the Netherlands’ new centralised national training centre, defeated 19-year-old Almaty Grand Prix bronze medallist Didar Khamza (KAZ) to win his second Grand Slam bronze medal. De Wit made a fast start as he threw with a yoko-tomoe-nage after just 15 seconds for a yuko score and 45 seconds later Khamza inexplicably grabbed the legs of his opponent to receive hansoku-make. Dutchman De Wit was ecstatic with the result and his career is only moving in one direction as he looks to break into the top 20 on the world ranking list.
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Elie Norbert (MAD)
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