Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1298, (2 - 8 June 2016)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1298, (2 - 8 June 2016)

Ahram Weekly

The mighty Judoka

In the run-up to the Olympic Games, Egypt’s Mohamed Abdel-Aal claimed his first world medal at the Judo World Masters in Guadalajara, Mexico, Inas Mazhar reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

The 2016 World Judo Masters, the final Rio qualification event, came to a star-spangled conclusion on Sunday with the road to this summer’s Olympic Games being defined at the three-day invite-only World Judo Masters.

Egypt had taken part in the Masters with four judokas: Mohamed Mohi (73kg), Mohamed Abdel-Aal (81kg), Ramadan Darwish (100kg) and Islam Al-Shahabi (+100). Though hopes were all settled on Darwish, it was Abdel-Aal who surprised as he fought hard for the bronze medal of his weight category.

The 28-year-old Abdel-Aal displayed impressive skills in the play-off for the bronze medal. According to a report by the International Judo Federation Abdel-Aal, the newly-crowned African champion in Tunisia in April, found another level to extinguish the hopes of Almaty Grand Prix bronze medalist Dagvasuren Nyamsuren of Mongolia. Nyamsuren tried to set up his drop morote-seoi-nage but the Egyptian was ready for the attack as the five minutes of regulation time ended with no score and a single shido apiece.

Abdel-Aal was more active as acknowledged by the previously impartial crowd who were now in the corner of the Egyptian. He excited them even more when he threw with a rotating ouchi-gari after 43 seconds for ippon.

Surely, the African fighter will not be underestimated by any opponent at the Olympic Games. On his way to the final, Abdel-Aal had beaten France’s Piertri Lic in the preliminaries of the -81kg, then beat Cuba’s Ivan Felipe Sliva Morales to qualify for the bronze medal match which he eventually won.

The new-rising judoka has shown outstanding progress over the past years, rising from third place at the African championship in 2013 and 2015 to winning the African championship 2016 and then the World Masters bronze medal.

The bronze medal awarded to Abdel-Aal gave him 280 points to be added to his world rankings, plus $1,200 in prize money. His coach Bassem Al-Husseini received $800.

Other results saw Mohi losing in the preliminary round of the -73kg to Russia’s Denis Iartcev.

In the -100kg, Darwish, winner of the 2015 Grand Prix in Budapest, had a victorious opener as he beat Hungary’s Miklos Cirjenics, but then lost the second match to France’s Maret Cyrille. In the repechage, Darwish lost to Cuba’s Jose Armenteros, thus failing to reach the semi-finals. This year’s African champion Darwish was placed seventh in the Masters.

In the +100kg, Al-Shehabi also lost in the preliminaries to his continental rival Tunisia’s Faical Jaballah, thus giving the tournament an early bye from its early stages. Jaballah, however, failed to win a medal and settled for seventh place.

The annual $200,000 World Judo Masters showpiece is reserved for the world’s elite judoka. The top 16 ranked judoka in each category are automatically invited to battle it out at the Lopez Mateo Sports Centre.

This was the first Masters competition to be held in Latin America and had showcased Olympic and world champions, athletes who have already booked their ticket to Rio and a handful of judoka who were outside of the qualification zone and were desperate for a final chance to realise their dream -- their life’s work -- and qualify for the Olympic Games.

A World Judo Masters offers the most qualification points after the World Championships and the IJF World Judo Tour. Judokas hope to capture 700 points for gold, while a silver medal earns 420 points and a bronze medalist scoops up 280 points.

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