Indian judo challenge ends early at Tel Aviv Grand Slam

Olympian Avtar Singh fell in the second round while Tulika Maan bowed out in the opening round.

By Rahul Venkat

Indian judokas Avtar Singh and Tulika Maan could not make much progress on Sunday as their losses brought an early end to India’s challenge at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam.

After being given a bye in the opening round, Rio 2016 Olympian Avtar Singh lost to former U-23 European Championships silver-medallist Mikita Sviryd of Belarus in Pool D of the men’s -100 kg category.

Avtar Singh, who sits 63rd in International Judo Federation’s (IJF) Olympic rankings, showed good defensive nous early on as he thwarted an early attack from Sviryd.

However, the Indian judoka was ineffective with his attacks, as Avtar’s attempts to knock the Belarusian off-balance proved futile and he soon earned a warning for being over-aggressive.

All this while, Mikita Sviryd kept his calm and in the next passage of play, he kept Avtar Singh at bay and was actively pursuing attacks of his own.

His efforts paid off as Sviryd pounced on the opening he got when Avtar Singh was slightly off-balance and the Belarusian swiftly pinned the Indian down to earn an Ippon (full-point) to wrap up the bout in quick time.

The two had previously faced each other in the opening round at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in 2019. Avtar Singh had prevailed on the day.

Meanwhile, India’s only other remaining judoka Tulika Maan also exited the Tel Aviv Grand Slam early as she fell to Croatia’s Ivana Maranic, a former World Cup silver-medallist.

Both judokas were given an early warning and world No. 62 Tulika Maan was given another for non-combativity soon.

With neither willing to yield, the bout went into the Golden Score period, where both Tulika Maan and Ivana Maranic were unable to dominate the other.

However, Tulika Maan’s third infringement of the bout meant that it gave Maranic an automatic win in the women’s +78kg category.

Maranic would exit the event a round later as she lost to former world champion Melissa Mojica of Puerto Rico.

On Thursday, three other Indian judokas – Jasleen Singh Saini, Vijay Yadav, and Shushila Devi had made an early exit. The five-member Indian contingent was accompanied by coach Jiwan Sharma at the Grand Slam.