Indian judokas Jasleen Singh Saini, Vijay Kumar Yadav and Shushila Devi failed to progress beyond their respective pools at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam on Thursday.
Part of the International Judo Federation (IJF) World Tour Event, points earned from the tournament will count towards qualification to the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
Vijay Kumar Yadav was the first Indian to take the tatami (judo mat) on the opening day in the men’s under-60kg category. He was drawn in Pool A.
Ranked world No. 69 in his division, the 24-year-old Vijay Kumar Yadav started the day with a win over Israeli contestant Adam Jazan.
The Indian judoka was on the offensive from the start against the 18-year-old Jazan but picked up two Shidos - the lowest form of penalty in judo for minor infringements.
Knowing a third would earn him a Hansoku-make, giving his opponent the victory, Vijay Kumar channelled his aggression better and picked up a waza-ari (half-point) midway through the bout.
Vijay Yadav then did well to see off Jazan’s charge for the remainder of the bout to pick up the win and progress to the second round.
Yadav’s run, however, ended there as he lost out to Azerbaijan’s Davud Mammadsoy – a 2015 Junior European Cup winner.
Despite picking up two early Shidos again, the Indian did well to stay in the contest against the world No. 50. However, with just over 14 seconds left on the clock, Mammadsoy got his breakthrough and scored a waza-ari.
With barely any time left for a comeback, Vijay Yadav lost the bout and exited the tournament.
It was Vijay Kumar Yadav’s second straight loss to Davud Mammadsoy. The Indian had gone down to the Azerbaijani in the opening round of the Grand Slam Hungary in October.
In men’s under-66kg, world No. 57 Jasleen Singh Saini’s campaign ended with a third-round loss against Israeli judoka Baruch Shmailov – the world No. 5 - in Pool A.
After getting a bye in the first round, Jasleen beat Spaniard Roman Perez with ippon in the last minute after trailing via a waza-ari score.
In the next round, the Indian went toe-to-toe with Baruch, who had won the silver medal at the recently concluded Doha Masters. With both on two Shidos each, there was little to choose between the two judokas heading into the final minutes.
However, with 1 minute and 14 seconds remaining, a misstep by Jasleen was punished by Baruch, who executed a take down to claim an ippon (full point) and won the bout instantly.
Shushila Devi was the only Indian women’s judoka in action on the opening day in the women’s under-48kg. Drawn in Pool C, she faced Portugal’s Maria Siderot.
The match ended level after the regulation time, invoking the Golden Score period, where the first contestant to score would win the bout.
Having picked up two Shido’s in regulation time, though, severely limited Shushila’s option of going in for risky attacks. Siderot capitalised to wear down the Indian and picked up a waza-ari deep into extra time to win the match and progress.
Olympian Avtar Singh, in men’s 100kg, and Tulika Mann, in women’s 78kg, are the only two Indians still left in the competition and will be in action on Saturday.