UAE’s sporting prowess shines bright in Indonesia

Twelve Asian Games medals so far are just reward for this country’s love of sport

epa06970707 Faisal Alketbi of United Arab Emirates reacts after a match against Zaid Sami of Jordan during the men's 94 kg Ju-Jitsu gold medal match of the 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia, 25 August 2018.  EPA/ADI WEDA
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With a cache of nine medals so far in jiu-jitsu, including two golds, the UAE is leading 45 nations in the sport at the Asian Games, the second biggest multisport competition after the Olympics. Since first competing in the games in the 1970s, the UAE has become a stalwart.

And the country's impressive haul of 12 medals in total so far this year in Indonesia was boosted by an action-packed weekend, which saw UAE athletes graced with two gold medals and three silvers, all won in the space of an hour. Above all, this success reflects the years of hard work and commitment undertaken by athletes representing the UAE, who have reached the pinnacle of their sport, whether it is cycling, football, fencing or jiu-jitsu.

In a country younger than the Games themselves, not only does that engender enormous pride in the achievements of this fledgling nation but a recognition of the dedication and sacrifices made by sportsmen and women to reach the very highest level.

When it comes to jiu-jitsu, the UAE’s spectacular achievement reflects a concerted effort, years in the making, to foster participation in the skilled martial art. Its emphasis on discipline, agility and physical strength has developed a huge following in the UAE, initially pioneered by royal figures and adopted by an enthusiastic public.

Among its fans are Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, a devotee of the sport who has been instrumental in spreading its popularity. The UAE’s success in Indonesia could encourage more people to take up jiu-jitsu, with all the health benefits that come with excelling at a sport. It is encouraging that these efforts are already paying off.

For now, UAE residents can watch proudly as this country’s sporting star continues to ascend. But even after the Games have concluded, the legacy of the sporting accolades will live on as a source of inspiration to anyone who has ever tried.