Youth takes centre stage on Day 1 at Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship

Al Dhaheri: Level of participation and technical ability shows sport is on the right track

The opening day of the 13th Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship was quite literally a kids’ day out with 175 gold medals up for grabs.

Fighters aged between four and 17 were in action on a busy day across 11 mats in the infant, junior, teen and juvenile divisions at Zayed Sports City’s Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The Kazakhstan national team claimed the boy’s Best Academy title with 1,350 points. Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club (1,267) and Sharjah Self Defence Club (972) finished second and third respectively.

In the girls’ championship, Palm Sports 777 with 1,115 points toped the table followed by Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club (1,105) and Al Jazira Club (1,025).

“Day one of the championship is always a special occasion as we get to see the future champions of our sports right here on the mats at the Jiu Jitsu Arena, the global home of jiu-jitsu,” Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, vice president of UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, said.

“However, today exceeded all our expectations. The level of participation, from within the UAE and across the world, shows great dedication of the athletes and their families, and underlines the work we are doing as a federation to raise awareness of this sport that teaches us so much.

“There were some truly exceptional performances, but the real success was the level of respect and support the athletes had for one another.”

Alanis Dos Santos, 14, was one of those athletes who made the long trip from Brazil to Abu Dhabi just for the opportunity to compete. Her efforts paid off as she took gold in the Teen Orange belt 57 kilogram weight.

“Today is something really big for me, really special,” she said. “It’s a privilege just to come here and compete, so to win a gold makes it even better.

“Abu Dhabi gives so much importance to jiu-jitsu and it’s made me want to come and compete here this year. I have flown in specifically for this competition and I am happy I was able to win. In future I want to come back and win here again.”

Dzhamal Ruzakhunov, 14, also made a successful trip with the Kazakhstan delegation. He participated in the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation’s World Championship last week and now in the Abu Dhabi Championship also knows as the World Pro.

“I won bronze at the Worlds so to win gold in the World Pro is very special to me,” he said. “My country has been sending teams here to compete in these championships for many years because the organization is very good. I’m hoping to use this as a springboard for more medals.”

Shaikha Al Katheeri, 17, was one of a number of Emiratis to top the podium on an action-packed first day. She won gold in the Teen blue belt to help Al Jazira Jiu-Jitsu Club take third place in the Girls Academy standings.

“I’ve been practicing really hard for this championship and winning this gold proves that hard work is worth it,” she said. “It has paid off. This arena is like home for me. I have been competing in this championship for 10 years and I’ve managed to take a podium finish in the past.

“However, I must keep working hard and keep improving. I want to compete internationally for my country, so this will give me confidence.

The World Pro continues with the Masters (Over-30s) take to the mats in blue – purple belts on Monday.

Updated: November 14th 2021, 6:05 PM