Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 August 2020

UAE great sporting moments - No 19: Judoka Sergiu Toma becomes second UAE athlete to win Olympic medal

Toma took bronze for his adopted country at the 2016 Rio Games

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Each day over three weeks, The National counts down the most memorable moments in UAE sports history.

Olympic glory is the pinnacle for any athlete and a matter of pride for the nation. And it is especially sweet if it is for your adopted country.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sergiu Toma got to live that moment as he became the second athlete to win a medal for the UAE after Sheikh Ahmed bin Hasher’s gold in the double trap shooting at the 2004 Games in Athens.

In the judo 81-kilogram category, Toma defeated Takanori Nagase of Japan to enter the semi-finals. He lost that contest to Russia's Khasan Khalmurzaev, but overpowered Italian Matteo Marconcini in the bronze medal match.

What made Toma's achievement all the more remarkable was that had suffered a back injury before the Rio Games, according to Nasser Al Tamimi, general secretary of the UAE Wresting and Judo Federation, a problem that has forced him into early retirement.

Al Tamimi said: “He has already fulfilled our objective with an Olympic medal. He will have his experience to share with our judokas, and perhaps, inspire our youth to become Olympians.

“He’s just retired from competitions. We’ll give him enough time to settle down on his new lifestyle and then talk to him of his plans with us.”

In 2013, Toma and his compatriots Victor Scvortov and Ivan Remarenco were recruited by the Federation to compete under the UAE flag with the aim of inspiring the Emirati youth.

Toma, 33, who has a law degree from the Moldova State University, said he owes his Olympic success to his adopted country.

“I want to say thank you to the UAE because they gave our guys a chance to represent the UAE. We always believe and always did everything possible to be in the top level,” Toma, who had previously represented Moldova at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, said after his medal-winning performance at Rio.

Updated: July 5, 2020 01:24 PM

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