Mixed day for Indian judokas in Tel Aviv Grand Slam

Harinder Mishra
·3-min read

Tel Aviv, Feb 18 (PTI) Aiming to secure vital ranking points to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Indian judokas had a mixed day on Thursday at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam being held under strict coronavirus regulations.

Vijay Yadav (men's 60kg) beat Israeli Adam Jazan but lost to Azerbaijani D Mammadsoy in a tough second round bout.

Jasleen Singh Saini (men's 66kg) beat Spaniard Roman Perez with ippon in the last minute after trailing with waza-ari score, but lost to Israeli B Shmailov due to a tactical mistake.

Shushila Devi (women's 48kg) lost to her higher ranked Portuguese opponent Siderot Maria in the golden score in another tough match.

A six member team of Indian judokas is participating at the three-day Tel Aviv Grand Slam scheduled between February 18 and 20.

With less than six months left for the Olympics starting on July 23, Indian judokas are looking to accumulate as many ranking points as possible to qualify directly for the Tokyo Games.

They will also be participating in Grand Slams to be held in Uzbekistan and Georgia in March, both of which are Olympic ranking tournaments.

The Indian contingent consists of five players -- three men and two women -- and their coach Jiwan Sharma, who is a recipient of the prestigious Dronacharya Award.

The other two players are Avtar Singh (men's 100kg) and Tulika Mann (women's 78kg).

Saini, who is a part of the government's Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) developmental group, with 850 points (the most by an Indian), is currently in with a chance of earning a continental quota for the Olympics.

'On June 30, IJF will declare the list of qualified athletes for the Olympics on the basis of their ranking. The top 18 ranking judokas will qualify directly. Otherwise, any one Indian athlete who will have maximum points in Asian continent will get the continental quota,' Sharma told PTI.

Sharma praised the efforts made by the government and Sports Authority of India (SAI) which have taken a long term plan to promote the game by providing more exposure to the youngsters.

He said the government has opened new centres across the country under the Khelo India programme and also brought in corporate sponsorship into the game.

'Judo is a very popular sport all over the world and has very tough competitions. If our players even win one bout, that is a big achievement because in Europe, international players participate in more than 50-60 international competitions whereas we hardly participate in 4 to 5. We also lack technically strong training partners in India,' he pointed out.

The same five judokas had represented India at the Budapest Grand Slam in October last year.

'About 500 participants from 73 countries are participating in the event. We have ensured the highest level of safety regulations, given the pandemic. Special flight arrangements and strict regulatory mechanisms have been adopted to make the event safe from the coronavirus pandemic point of view,' Gil Lebanoni, a spokesperson for the Israeli Judo Association, said. PTI HM PDS PDS