Omar Al Suwaidi announced his arrival on the big stage with a sensational win over Brazilian Everton Celio in the purple belt 56-kilogram final at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship on Wednesday.
The Emirati, 18, refused to buckle during a rollercoaster contest that saw the scores swing one way and then the other before winning the referee's verdict after the fight finished 6-6 at Zayed Sports City’s Jiu-Jitsu Arena.
“It was a tactical contest and each time I fell behind on points I managed to come strongly back by scoring from sweeps and pass guards,” Al Suwaidi told The National.
“I have competed in the junior division in this championship in the last four years and have won golds in the white, grey, yellow and blue belts, and to win the first gold in purple belt is yet the best since I first started jiu-jitsu five years ago.
“I have been in the national team’s high performance squad and obviously after today’s result I’m happy with the progress that I have made over the last five years.”
Al Suwaidi’s teammate Theyab Al Nuaimi clinched bronze in the same weight division with a 2-0 points victory over another Brazilian in Vinicius Andrade.
Adding a second gold for the hosts was Mayed Al Shehhi in the blue belt 56 kgs with victory over Brazilian Kleber Alves 6-6 on points as the UAE finished on two golds, five silvers and three bronze.
Maitha Shraim narrowly missed on a third gold when she lost to Sabrina Migliozzi of Switzerland on a referee’s verdict after a scoreless deadlock at the end of the extra one minute.
Shamma Al Hosani, Shamsa Al Ameri and Hessa Al Shamsi all had to settle for second best in the female category.
Al Hosani went down to Portuguese Thaynara Victoria 6-0 on points in the blue belt 49kg. Al Ameri and Al Shamsi lost to Brazilians Eduarda Santos and Maria Silva in the blue belt 55kg and purple belt 55kg, respectively, both by submissions.
Salem Mubarak Zayed won a fifth silver for the hosts in the purple belt 85kg with Brazil's Pedro Rubim taking gold.
The Brazilians topped the medals tally with 16 golds from 25 that were up for grabs in the first day of the competition for the men and women’s open category.
The championship reaches the penultimate day on Thursday with the men’s and women open, starting at 10am.