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August 25, 2019

Shah to kick-start World Judo campaign on Aug 30


August 25, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan’s top judoka Shah Hussain will begin his World Judo Championships journey with his first round fight against Saidov Saidzhalol of Tajikistan on August 30 at Tokyo.

Shah, ranked 99th in the world, is the sole 2020 Olympic hope of Pakistan. The event is very important for the Tokyo-based fighter and former Asian bronze medallist.

He has not got enough exposure in 2019, having only featured in the Asian Championships where he finished fifth. This was the third successive time that Shah finished fifth in the continental event.

In 2015 edition of the continental event, Shah had claimed bronze medal.

Shah made history for Pakistan when he became the first fighter of the nation to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

World Championships in Tokyo also serves as Olympic qualifiers. Shah’s Tajik opponent in the first round is a gutsy fighter, having 54th world ranking.

But the way Shah has improved himself it is evident that he can beat him.

“We expect a lot from Shah in the event,” Pakistan Judo Federation’s (PJF) president Col (retd) Junaid Alam told ‘The News’ from Tokyo on Saturday.

Shah has been bracketed in Group B, having 16 fighters. As many as 62 fighters will compete in -100 kilogramme weight category in which Shah is going to compete.

The weigh-in of this category will be held on August 29.

Shah is expected to exploit home conditions.

“It’s my hometown and I can play with more confidence here,” the 26-year-old 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games silver medallist said.

Boehler Lauren of Austria (world No 24), Korrel Michael of Holland (world No4) and Gasimov Elmar of Azerbaijan (world No10) are also in Shah’s group.

Besides Shah, Pakistan is also fielding Tokyo-based Amina Toyoda and Pakistan-based Mohammad Hasnain and Humaira Ashiq.

Humaira will meet Vargas Ley Mary of Chile in the -48 kg first round fight on Sunday (today).

Vargas is world No 49. Humaira, although highly experienced, is playing in her first World Championships.

Meanwhile, on Monday (tomorrow), young fighter Mohammad Hasnain will play in his first senior event. He has been given bye in the first round of Group C.

Amina Toyoda, who has worked very hard, will face Starke Pauline of Germany in her first round fight on August 27.

Pauline is world No 60, while Amina is ranked 257. Amina lives permanently in Tokyo.

As many as 841 athletes from 148 countries are set to feature in the event.