There will be something very different about Sergiu Toma’s third appearance at the Olympic Games in Rio.
He is already an Olympic veteran, having competed at both Beijing and London for the country of his birth, Moldova. In Brazil, however, he’ll be representing the UAE.
In 2013 the UAE began the process of making Toma, among others, a naturalised Emirati citizen. He is part of a 13-strong UAE team in Brazil, which also includes two other Moldovan-born judokas, Victor Scvortov and Ivan Remarenco.
The 29-year-old was eliminated in the second round by Georgia’s David Kevkhishvili in China in 2008. He beat Czech opponent Jaromir Musil four years later but then exited in the third round at the hands of Japan’s Takahiro Nakai.
The man who won European silver and World Championship bronze in 2011 is aware Rio might be his final appearance on the grandest stage of all, and he is determined to make his mark in Brazil.
“In London I lost the chance to get a bronze medal so my aim in Rio is very much to get a medal,” said the man now ranked inside the world’s top 10. “I am 29 so I am in the twilight of my career, it could be my last Olympics so I want to achieve a medal before I retire.”
Unlike in his younger years, form would suggest Toma’s time is now. He is ranked ninth in the world in the -81kg weight category he competes in, and insists he is determined to repay the faith shown in him by the UAE Wrestling & Judo Federation.
“I am desperate to win a medal before that (retirement) and I want to give something back to the UAE,” admitted Toma, born in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau. “I want to return the faith that the UAE have put in me. With all the support and care I have received from them I want to give something back, because my life has changed big time since I switched to fight for the UAE.”
In Rio, world No. 1 Avtandili Tchrikishvili is likely to provide the sternest test to Toma’s medal aspirations. The 25-year-old Georgian is the reigning European champion.
Know more about Sport360 Application