The first taste of competition at an IJF Grand Slam for a trio of young Emiratis ended in first-round defeats but the experience gained is sure to benefit in their development, according to Khalifa Al Hosani.
Al Hosani, 22, the 21-year-old Ali Al Yamahi and Jasem Al Thunairi, 18, made their debuts in the 11th Abu Dhabi Grand Slam at Zayed Sports City’s Jiu-Jitsu Arena on Friday.
Al Hosani, the most experienced of the trio having won a silver and two bronze medals at the Continental Cup, went down to Oscar Pertelson of Estonia in the 73-kilogram weight.
Al Yamahi and Al Thumairi suffered defeats to Denis Vieru of Moldova in the 66kg and Ukrainian Oleh Veredbya in the 60kg class, respectively, on the opening day of the three-day event.
"It indeed was a great opportunity and a massive learning curve for us," Al Hosani said. "All three of us can take this experience forward. We knew the task of competing at this level and to experience that was another thing."
There were five gold medals on offer on Friday (three for women and two for men) at the year-ending Grand Slam, which has drawn 223 entries from 41 countries.
Assunta Scutto (48kg) of Italy, Amandine Buchard (52kg) and Portuguese Telma Monteiro (57kg) came out top in the women’s division the Tokyo silver medallist Yung Wei Yang (60kg) of Taipei and Vieru snapped up the golds for men.
“My will to win helps me to be strong and win these big events,” said Scutto, 19.
“Gold at the Junior World Championships and here is a good ending to the year. Now I have to rest and prepare for the Italian National Championships.”
Buchard, a silver medallist at the Tokyo Olympics, is already preparing for the 2024 Games in Paris. She overcame Olympic bronze medallist Chelsie Giles in the final to take her head-to-head record over the Briton to 3-0.
“I asked my coaches to let me be here,” Buchard said. “It is my first event after the Olympic Games. I wanted to feel how I would fight and this event is a part of the preparation for the 2022 Paris Grand Slam.
“I enjoyed this competition. I won gold and now my next event is the European Golden League and then Paris.”