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UAE General Secretary Nasser Al Tamimi hits back at Toma criticism

18 Aug 2016 08:55    JudoHeroes & IJF Media / Copyright:
20160809_JudoHeroes_Sergiu Toma

The UAE’s most senior judo official has said the country should embrace Olympic medal winner Sergiu Toma as a national hero. Nasser Al Tamimi, Secretary General of the Judo, Wrestling and Kick Boxing Federation, spoke out after a debate around the nationality of Toma, who was born in Moldova but lives in and competes for the UAE.

One Twitter user wrote he was “only happy about the achievement for my country — not the player”.Al Tamimi said such critics failed to understand modern sports.

He told 7DAYS: “Toma represents the UAE, the medal is a UAE medal and people who do not get that do not understand professional sports. Some people tried to speak against it on social media… but in reality, the whole government and people of the UAE support Toma.

“The UAE flag was raised in the Olympics, the name of this country was known on stage and Toma is one of the top judokas in the world.”

Al Tamimi added: “He is a UAE champion and is a hero for the younger generation to look up to.”

Among those who spoke about Toma’s victory was Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan bin Tamim, Head of General Security for the Emirate of Dubai.

He wrote on Twitter: “I know that many people are happy with Sergiu earning an Olympic medal for the UAE, congratulations to those who are happy about it. But I personally don’t feel anything unless it was that the sons of this nation had earned it.”

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an Emirati political scientist, ran a Twiter poll that about 2,500 users responded to. Asked how they felt about a “foreign athlete representing the country”, 61 per cent said they were “not satisfied”. But others leapt to Toma’s defence.

One user, Saeed Al Ketbi, wrote: “The athlete is Emirati and no foreigner.”

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