Indian judokas battle for one Olympic spot at World Championships
Express News Service
CHENNAI: The World Judo Championships scheduled in Budapest, Hungary, from June 6 to 13 will decide which Indian judoka will get continental quota for the Tokyo Olympics.
L Shushila Devi (-48kg) and Jasleen Singh Saini (-66kg) are the top-two judokas from the country with the former leading her compatriot by 69 points. Avtar Singh (-100kg), who competed in the Rio Olympics, Tulika Maan (+78kg) and Vijay Yadav (-60kg) too are in contention. Only one of them can make the cut for the Olympics.
“We are in talks with the Indian government and Sports Authority of India (SAI) about participation of judokas in the Budapest event. The participation is subject to government’s approval and existing Covid-19 protocols in Hungary,” a highly-placed official in the Judo Federation of India (JFI) told this daily.
Shushila, with 989 points, leads the chart while Jasleen lies second with 920 points. Avtar is third with 724 points while Vijay and Tulika are fourth and fifth with 673 and 446 points.
Separate events offer different ranking points with the World Championships presenting the opportunity to earn maximum points. Only participation in it can fetch 20 points while a win in the first bout means a judoka can bag 200 points. Entering 1/32 round will help an athlete earn 240 points while reaching pre-quarterfinals will ensure a judoka 320 points. The gold medallist will get 2000 points while the second and third-placed participants can earn 1400 and 1000 points respectively. Given the narrow gap in points among the Indian judokas, any one of them can qualify for the Games.
“Competition will be tough in the event but it offers maximum ranking points. If someone can win two bouts, it can be decisive,” added the source.
The team suffered its biggest setback when three of its members returned Covid positive in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, during the Asia-Oceania Championships last month. The team had to withdraw from the event, which offered crucial ranking points. The Covid positive judokas along with two support staff were made to serve a mandatory quarantine period in the country. “It was a horrible experience but what can be done. We can only hope for better this time,” said a judoka, who may be a part of the national team.
The last date for hotel reservation and visa application as per hosts Hungary is May 15. Besides, the team members have to return Covid negative twice before boarding the flight. They will be subjected to test on arrival and have to undergo a few more tests at regular intervals. “The travel restrictions and strict protocols meant we can talk about participation only after reaching there and returning negative before weigh-in,” said another judoka.
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