Leading judo athletes may train in Mongolia

KARACHI: The Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF) is considering sending its leading judo players to Mongolia ahead of the June 24-26 Grand Slam event in Ulaanbaatar.

According to PJF, Mongolia’s training will improve players’ performance at the Commonwealth Games.

“Yes, we are looking at an option to send our top players to Mongolia ahead of the majors so they can get solid training that will also help them compete in the Commonwealth Games,” PJF said. A senior official told ‘The News’ on Thursday.

The official was quick to add: “We have a deep friendship with the Mongolian Judo Federation and there is no problem sending our athletes there for training days before the Grand Slam event hosted by Mongolia.”

However, the official said the matter requires permission from the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).

“We will definitely write to the board because we will have to get NOC and financial support from the state,” the official said.

“It is very important to send judo athletes to the Grand Slam because with this event, the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers will also begin,” the official said.

So far, only two judo athletes, including Olympia Shah Hussein and Kaiser Afridi, have been confirmed for the Commonwealth Games.

The PJF is understood to want to field six men and four women judoka at the Commonwealth Games. A source told The News that the PJF is working to ensure there are more fighters at the judo gym in Birmingham.

The Commonwealth Games performance will also give the PJF a solid picture of which athletes it will have to focus on qualifying for the Paris Olympics, which will be a two-year process.

After back-to-back appearances at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2021, it is unclear whether Olympian Shah Hussein will try again for a seat at the 2024 Paris Games. The Japanese boxer told this reporter in an interview that his performance at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will determine whether he should go for a seat at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled to take place in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8.

Shah, who has played in the -100kg category for his entire career, has now also decided to play in the -90kg category, a decision that could spell big trouble for him as he has to start the world ranking from the start. Getting into the 2024 Olympics will be a big deal for him.

Meanwhile, if Shah drops out of the same weight class, Qaiser Afridi will build his career in the -100kg category.

The PJF also hosted a camp in Quetta on April 1, in preparation for a series of international events over the next few months. “Yes, we have set up a camp in Quetta and so far, about 18 fighters have reported that by tomorrow the strength will be increased to 40,” the official said.

The country’s rising star Qaiser Afridi has yet to join the camp. Shah Hussein, who is preparing in Tokyo, has made up his mind ahead of the Commonwealth Games, his family sources say.

Shah is also a two-time Asian bronze medalist, having won a silver medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Judo not included.

At the same time, it is also reported that due to the tense relations between Russia and Ukraine and the sanctions against the Russian Judo Federation, PJF decided not to hire Russian coach Moussa and began to look for coaches from other countries.

It is reported that PJF is very interested in a Spanish coach who cooperates with China, and he also informed PJF of his needs. PJF is considering this issue.

PJF received green signal from PSB about hiring foreign coaches. The board is interested in managing the potential discipline of foreign coaches ahead of the 14th South Asian Games in 2023, which Pakistan will host in March next year.

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