Toma lost to Mammadali Mehdiyev of Azerbaijan in the 90kg bronze medal match at the Mubadala Arena on Monday
IJF Abu Dhab Grand Slam: Sergiu Toma misses out on bronze medal
Sergiu Toma failed to win a medal on the final day of the IJF Abu Dhabi Grand Slam but said the ranking points he earned were a good foundation to build on qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Toma lost to Mammadali Mehdiyev of Azerbaijan in the 90kg bronze medal match at the Mubadala Arena on Monday.
“It is disappointing to miss out on a medal but I managed to get some qualifying points for the 2020 Olympics, which was good,” said the Moldovan-born judoka.
“I have to make sure I qualify for the Olympics which is my main goal and to be there in the best of shape.”
Toma won a gold medal at the Abu Dhabi meet in 2016, the same year he secured bronze at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro for the UAE. He has failed to replicate that form in the intervening years.
“The last two years since the gold I won in Abu Dhabi haven’t been great,” he said.
“I have achieved nothing at all but there is nothing to worry. To reach the bronze medal round and finish fifth is a first positive step. You can say it is a start on the road to Olympics.”
Toma’s next stop will be either the Osaka Grand Slam next month or the Paris Grand Slam next February.
“If I can’t make it to Osaka, I will definitely be there in Paris,” he added. “I will be working really hard for sure.”
Toma cleared his first two hurdles in Abu Dhabi, overcoming Yahor Varapayeu of Belarus and Kazakh Islam Bozbayev before losing to Quedjau Nhabali of Ukraine in the quarter-finals. He reached the bronze medal match after beating Egyptian Hatem Abd El Akher by Ippon.
The UAE's other two judokas both suffered first-round exits. Mihail Marchitan lost to Ekaterinburg Grand Slam winner and top seed Aleksandar Kukolj of Serbia in the 90kg division and Ivan Remarenco was beaten by German Philipp Galandi in the 100kg class.
The men’s 100-plus final saw a lightning quick finish as Russia's Inal Tasoev took just five seconds to beat Olympic champion Lukas Krpalek of the Czech Republic.
Israel's Peter Paltchik beat Elmar Gasimove of Azerbaijan in the 100kg final.
In the women’s event, Guusje Steenhuis followed up her 2016 success in the capital by winning gold in the 78kg division, beating Natalie Powell of Britain, last year's winner.
“We have met a few times but this one was very hard,” said the Dutchwoman, who won silver at the World Championship in Baku.
“I won gold in my first appearance in Abu Dhabi and took bronze last year. So it was nice to win gold again.”
Maryna Slutskaya of Belarus beat Anna Fatoumata Bairo of France by Ippon in the 78kg-plus final.