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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

UAE judo chief backs Sergiu Toma and team to win medals at Asian Games

Naser Al Tamimi quietly confident even as Sergiu Toma and Ivan Remarenco make final preparations in Budapest, and Victor Scvortov trains in Japan

UAE judoka Sergiu Toma, left, celebrates with Naser Al Tamimi, the general secretary of the UAE Wrestling, Judo and Kickboxing Federation at Rio 2016. Gabriela Sabau
UAE judoka Sergiu Toma, left, celebrates with Naser Al Tamimi, the general secretary of the UAE Wrestling, Judo and Kickboxing Federation at Rio 2016. Gabriela Sabau

Sergiu Toma and Ivan Remarenco are set for one final warm-up session at the weekend before they head to Indonesia for the Asian Games.

The duo are due to compete at the International Judo Federation’s Budapest Grand Prix on Friday before making their way east to Jakarta to represent the UAE at the Games, which kick off on August 18.

Toma, a bronze medallist at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, spearheads a strong team that includes fellow Olympians Remarenco and Victor Scvortov.

Naser Al Tamimi, general secretary of the UAE Wrestling, Judo and Kickboxing Federation, said that both Toma and Remarenco have been keen to use their experience in the Hungarian capital as preparation for Jakarta.

Scvortov has chosen to train in Japan, instead, before joining his teammates in the Indonesian capital.

“We are not looking at results from this competition," Al Tamimi said, "but if they do well, we’ll be happy for them. If not, they can travel with a few lessons learnt.”

Al Tamimi said the prospect of all three judokas returning with medals is high.

“We are very positive of winning medals but, having said that, we must also be realistic that nothing can be taken for granted,” he said. “Obviously it’s not an easy task to win against some of the world-class judokas around, particularly from Japan, [South] Korea and Central Asia.

“Sergiu made us proud at 2016 Rio and we hope all three can reach the medal rounds.”

Toma, 31, is competing in a new 90-kilogram weight division following his Olympic bronze medal win in the 81kg category. Remarenco and Scvortov, both 30, will compete in the 100kg and 73kg categories, respectively.

“It’s something that Sergiu had decided himself,” Al Tamimi said about Toma's move up the weight division. “He felt comfortable competing in the heavier weight after the Olympics."

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Toma had a memorable outing in Rio after overcoming Italian Matteo Marconcini to claim bronze. In the process, he became only the second UAE athlete to win an Olympic medal after Sheikh Ahmed Hasher Al Maktoum created history at the 2004 Games in Athens where he came away with gold in the double trap in shooting.

Scvortov went down to Japan's Shohei Ono in the round of 16 at Rio, while Remarenco suffered a first-round exit to Lyes Bouyakoub of Algeria.

“After Rio, the Asian Games has been our next goal,” Al Tamimi said. “We have a programme for all our national team judokas, including the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in October.

“We always believed Sergiu, Victor and Ivan to be role models who fit into our programme to further promote and develop our youth to reach Olympic level. We have created a pathway and time will tell us where we are headed to.”

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