Sergiu Toma, UAE’s lone medallist at the Rio Olympics, is in no mood to rest on his laurels. Having clinched a bronze in the 81kg class Judo, he may have fulfilled a long-lasting dream but has now set his sights on a gold at Tokyo in four years’ time.
Toma, who switched loyalties to the UAE from Moldova, received a warm welcome at the UAE Judo Federation on Monday and was quick to reveal that his mission has been accomplished but it has also inspired him to aim higher.
“Well of course, the Olympics medal was my biggest dream but now that I have won bronze, I feel the gold is very much possible,” said the 29-year-old, who returned to the capital after spending a much-needed break with his family and friends.
“My life hasn’t changed much after winning the medal but I am very proud that it happened and all the hard work which was done paid off and now I can relax,” said Toma, who represented Moldova twice before at the Games.
“Previously, when I won bronze at the World Championship, I couldn’t believe it. I even got up in the night to check if the medal was there in my bag. However, this time round I was ready for it as all the preparation was keeping the medal in mind,” added Toma, who headed straight for his hometown to be with his family.
Though it wasn’t a medal for his country of birth, the reception that he got from his people back there was not docile and everyone was proud of his accomplishment.
“My parents are very proud of my achievements because it is my personal achievement and for the UAE. My parents respected my decision to change my country I represented. I have a home here and they said why should they be angry about it. They are happy,” revealed Toma, adding that everyone he met after Olympics was happy and they said ‘thank you we are happy with you success’.
Toma, whose only loss came to eventual gold medallist Khasan Khalmurzaev of Russia in the semis, revealed that he did not let the loss play on his mind in the bronze medal play-off against Mattoe Marcocini of Italy which he won comfortably.
“The only regret was that loss in semis because I wanted to get the gold. But I’m glad that it did not influence me in the next fight for the bronze medal which was very good. This success will motivate me to win more medals for UAE in future tournaments,” asserted Toma, who revealed that he celebrated his success by grabbing a McDonald burger at the Village.
“My dinner was one Kiwi or banana all the while. When I came back to the village I managed to have McDonald and Coke,” said Toma, bursting into laughter.
“I can sleep now. It was like training, training and training. The schedule was so packed. Now I can enjoy everything that I refrained from,” said Toma, who has no immediate goals on mind and wants to savour this moment.
“All the training will start after September. Then only we will be deciding on our future course of action,” informed Toma, who also felt that this achievement would do a world of good for the sport here in the UAE.
© Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2019. All rights reserved.