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2016 Olympics: Toma feels proud on winning medal for UAE

Ashwani Kumar/Abu Dhabi
Filed on August 22, 2016
2016 Olympics: Toma feels proud on winning medal for UAE
Sergiu Toma with his bronze medal.

(Ryan Lim)

UAE Olympic hero Sergiu Toma is ecstatic about winning a medal for the country. He hopes that his Rio bronze inspires many athletes in the UAE and there are many more medals at the next Games.

"I am happy that my hard work has paid off. I am grateful for the facilities I got in the UAE. I am happy that I could deliver on my promise of a medal. I am proud that I did win this for the UAE," he said on winning only the second medal for the UAE.

He is optimistic about the UAE winning more medals in future. "I hope this medal inspire many more. My aim is to represent the UAE in more competitions and give more reasons for the youngsters to take to this sport. Hopefully in the next Olympics, we will have more athletes representing the UAE and more models too."

Toma was ice-cold throughout his rounds at Rio and said he controlled his emotions after every win as such displays would have affected his focus.

Regarding his preparations before the match, he said: "I control my emotions and will stay focused. I know all my opponents."

The national hero said that his previous experiences at 2012 Olympics have helped his performance in Rio. "My final preparations that were specifically done for the Games also helped me," he said.

Comparing his days of winning a bronze at the Paris World Championships in 2011 with his Rio heroics, he said: "In Paris, I would wake up in the middle on the night just to check if I had actually won the bronze and it isn't a dream. It was unexpected. Now, I was ready for it."

He, however, regretted not winning a gold medal. "It was the main goal but bronze is a motivation to achieve more medals in future." 

Toma has sights on gold and sees himself on the podium of Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

"After winning this medal, I am confident that I can go for gold."

After strenuous training schedules, Toma is happy to be able to sleep easy now.

On the big day celebrations, he said: "I celebrated with my close friends. I called my parents and thanked them. They were very proud." 

When asked how his parents reacted to him shifting base from Moldova to the UAE, he said: "They respected my decision. If I have a home here in the UAE then they too are happy." 

Elaborating on his early days, he said: "I was nine when my father's friend told me to try judo and thereafter there is no looking back."

On whether his parents are pushing marriage proposals, he said: "That is a continuous process."

He also thanked Judo Federation secretary-general Nasser Al Tamimi for his relentless support.

Nasser Al Tamimi said he is happy that the federation has triumphed in the Rio challenge.

Tamimi said the biggest moment was the fight against Japanese (Nagase). "It was a big fight. I lost almost 5kg during that fight. When he won that fight, I was sure of a medal."

And once Toma won the bronze, Al Tamimi felt like a 'bird'.

"After carrying a big mountain of expectations, I was like a bird. I was so relaxed and happy. It was a big challenge for me too. I challenged everyone. It was a big moment to see the UAE flag getting hoisted in Brazil."

Tamimi said already there are many talented judokas in the youth team.

"They are 14-16 year-old. We are preparing them for 2018 Youth Olympics." "And they are all nationals," he added.

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