Shah confident of a good show in Tokyo Games judo competitions

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KARACHI: Despite having been drawn with some tough fighters, Pakistan’s experienced judoka Shah Hussain is confident that he will click in the Tokyo Olympics -100 kilogramme judo competitions which will be held on July 29.

“I know that I will be playing against some good fighters but I am confident I will thwart their plans,” Shah told media on Friday.

As per draws released on Thursday, Shah has been drawn with the World No13 Darwish Ramadan of Egypt in the -100kg first round. The Egyptian is a tricky fighter but Shah says he likes his style. “No doubt the Egyptian is a good fighter but I like his style and will be able to prevail over him in the first round,” Shah said.

If Shah, World No 50, wins in the first round he will clash with the World No1 Varlam Liparteliani of Georgia in the second round.

And Shah is determined to tackle the Georgian. “Yes, playing against him will be tough but I will try not to let him use what his strong trick is,” he said.

This will be the second time that Tokyo-based Shah will be competing in the Olympics. He created history when he became the first Pakistani judoka to compete at the Olympics — in 2016 Rio Games on the basis of a continental quota. And again for the Tokyo Olympics, he has qualified on the basis of the continental quota.

Shah entered the Olympic Village on Thursday. His Japanese coach, who has also been issued accreditation, is yet to enter the village.

Shah said that having a coach during the Olympics would help him. “Yes, it will definitely benefit me. In the Olympic qualifiers I used to enter the competition all alone but now I will enter with two minds and that may help,” said Shah, an Asian bronze medallist and Commonwealth Games silver medallist.

He is happy with his preparations. “Yes, I have prepared well. Because of Covid I could not feature in a number of events due to visa and other issues but at home I trained hard with my coach and am in good spirits,” said Shah, the son of former Pakistan Olympics bronze medallist boxer Hussain Shah.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF) said that Shah had a big disadvantage of having missed a few international events.

“Since draws are based on the ranking, Shah had a big disadvantage of missing last four Olympic qualifiers. He missed Israel Grand Slam, next two events while suffering from Covid and he could not get visa for the World Championship in Hungary which was the final qualifying event,” the PJF said.

“He did not get the chance to improve his ranking before the Olympics. Had he done that he could have got favourable draws,” the federation said.

“For an athlete, every point matters in the final days of the Olympic qualifying rounds. On the basis of his earlier outstanding performances he qualified for this mega event being on top of the continent after direct qualifiers,” the PJF said.

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