Pakistan’s -100kg judoka Shah Hussain Shah suffered defeat in his second round fight of Asia-Oceania Senior Championships in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on Thursday.
After beating Tevita Takayawa of Fiji in his first contest of the event, the 50th Olympic ranked Shah went down fighting to 44th ranked Chinese athlete, Erihemubatu, according to the information made available here by Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF).
But despite losing the fight Shah has been successful in holding his Olympic spot, according to President PJF Col. Junaid Alam.
He said Shah had outfitted Erihemubatu in the last Asian Judo Championship in 2019 but this time he was not in full rhythm as he had suffered from COVID-19 recently.
“Unfortunately, he caught the virus in the prime time of Olympic qualifying period. It was only on March 29 that he tested negative for the virus.
And it was on that very day [March 29] that he flew to Turkey to participate in Antalya Grand Slam as well as Asian Oceania Championship in Bishkek.
“But as he was out of proper training and still passing through the recovery phase, he could not keep the required pace and finished seventh in Asia-Oceania championship,” he added.
According to Junaid Shah had also missed two grand slams – one due to Covid-19 and the other due to the location i.e. Tel Aviv where he could not participate due to obvious reasons.
According to Junaid, the Japan-based judoka would fly to Russia, next month for Kazan Grand Slam 2021, scheduled to be held from May 5 to 7.
“Then, he’ll be vying in the crucial World Championship Seniors 2021, scheduled to take place at Budapest, Hungary from June 6 to 13.
“But he needs to work really hard for these two events. Keeping in view the circumstances through which he has gone recently, he has done a wonderful job to stay in the Olympic race and maintain his current ranking,” he added.
He said the PJF had been trying its best to focus on Shah by providing him opportunities to participate in maximum events in the last three years.
“Our female judoka Amina Toyoda, who is another contender for the Olympic spot could not participate in qualifiers due to the same issue of Covid-19.
“Hopefully, she will be able to appear in the remaining qualifiers – Kazan Grand Salam and World Championship.”
He said that a special grant of two million rupees for these two judokas’ participation in three international contests had been approved by Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Dr. Fehmida Mirza and the federation was thankful for that.
“So far, it is purely the PJF who has been arranging Shah’s tours and meeting all other expenditures in the extended Tokyo qualifiers.”
He also requested the IPC Ministry to assist PJF in sending Shah for a month’s training camp in Germany till the start of World Championship.
“Unlike other major sports, judo Olympic qualification is extremely difficult to maintain. The moment you miss any event, you go down in ranking and tend to lose your hard-earned spot,” he maintained.
According to International Judo Federation, the world ranking will be frozen from June 28 and the list of qualified Olympic athletes will be formalised. The Olympic quotas are perfectly identical between men and women.—APP