Eleonora Geri,

FLASHBACK: In this February 23, 2020, file photo, Italy’s Eleonora Geri, left, and T&T’s Gabriella Wood take part in the Grand Slam Düsseldorf 2020, at the ISS Dome, Germany.

GABRIELLA WOOD expressed her elation at becoming the first female judoka from Trinidad and Tobago to have qualified for an Olympic Games.

The Scotland-based Wood’s name was among those listed on the International Judo Federation’s published official list of athletes who have qualified for next month’s re-scheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Wood got in on a quota allocation, as the ninth of 11 qualifiers from the Pan American region, and she will be this country’s lone judo representative at the 32nd Olympiad, to be held in the “Land of the Rising Sun”.

Wood, a four-time national champion, already knew of her qualification by the time the Express contacted her, though the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) had not yet been officially notified. “It’s been a long time coming, so it feels very good,” said Wood.

In 2015, at the Junior Pan American Championships, Wood came away with silver. The 23-year-old also bagged another silver medal at the Pan American Open in Bariloche (Argentina) in 2020.

Wood was viewing (on TV) Scotland’s Euro 2020 Championship, Group D match, against Croatia when the Express contacted her at her Scotland base yesterday evening. “This has me... everyone extremely happy,” Wood said of those around her. “For Tokyo, preparation began in 2018, but my Olympic dream began quite in 2016.”

Recently, Wood had sought direct Olympic qualification at the June 6-13 International Judo Federation (IJF) World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. However, she lost her +78kg match against Anzhela Gasparian of the Russian Judo Federation (RJF).

Wood was ranked 72 while her opponent was ranked 38, therefore not hurting her chances of getting into the Olympics via Pan American Continental quota allocation.

The qualification period was initially planned to end in June 2020, but was extended to June 2021, finishing immediately after the World Judo Championships (Hungary) 2021. Having calculated all the points won by the participants of the World Judo Tour, the list of qualifying athletes was released yesterday.

Wood said she will now continue a rigorous training schedule, with the goal of giving of her best effort in Tokyo next month. “Honestly to do the best that I can,” she noted of her Tokyo aspirations. “I will take it one match at a time and go from there.”

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