Like Weightlifting, judo is another sport where Indian women are doing better than their male counterparts. But while we should not have very high expectations from Khumujam Tombi Devi and Divya Tewar, this is definitely a sign of improving standard of the sport in the country.
Missing the chance to earn direct quota from the World and Asian Championships, Manipur’s Tombi Devi (48kg) and Haryana’s Divya (78kg) got the berths on the basis of their Asian Rankings.
Since the inception of the sport in the Olympics, the Asians have always been a force to reckon with, but India has figured nowhere compared to countries like Japan, China and Korea, who have bagged bulk of the medals.
“Asia is the toughest zone to qualify from as it has the world’s top countries in the sport. But the fact that two of our judokas have made it to the Beijing Games speaks about the rising standard of the sport in the country,” said former national coach Jeevan Sharma. He is presently managing the Centre of Excellence (judo) in Patiala and Divya is a product of the centre.
Both Divya and Tomba Devi have recently returned from a 40-day training-cum-competition stint in Korea and Uzbekistan.
“In India, we lack competition. So we went for to Korea and Uzbekistan. Though the Koreans didn’t allow us to compete with their Olympic team, we competed with other judokas. The trip was fruitful as their standard is high,” said Tombi Devi. On the team’s expectations, Sharma said, “A lot will depend on the draws. But I am sure, whatever the draws we get, our players will definitely give off their best.”
Lack of competition
Divya has not participated in any of the international events this year except the Commonwealth Championship in Mauritius. Tombi Devi, barring the Mauritius meet and the Asian Championships, has not participated in any meet. “It’s of no use as far as Olympic preparations are concerned. The standard is not so high among Commonwealth countries,” said Divya.