There is an air of optimism surrounding the five-member UAE Jiu-Jitsu team ahead of their World Games campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday.
The national team completed the official weigh-ins on Thursday and are confident of continuing their medal-winning performances.
Faisal Al Ketbi, who won gold at the 2017 World Games in Poland, competes in the 83-kilogram weight. His teammates are Mohammed Al Amri (77kg) and Mohammed Al Suwaidi (69kg) and female fighters Shamma Al Kalbani (63kg) and Balqees Abdelkareem (48kg).
“The team prepared well during a month-long camp held in Los Angeles and are ready for the action,” Al Ketbi said.
“The players’ focus and determination are at the highest levels, which will inspire them to replicate last year’s continental and international successes and strengthen the UAE’s position globally.”
Al Ketbi was the sole flag bearer for the UAE in 2017 and says he is confident the UAE squad can compete for medals in Alabama.
“It is different this time from the previous edition that I participated in Poland in 2017 because there are five players representing the UAE, all of whom are champions on both the continental and international levels,” the most decorated Emirati jiu-jitsu fighter said.
“We arrived in Birmingham with the intention of winning gold and standing atop podiums.
“We are fully aware that the competitions won't be easy due to the presence of strong players from different continents, but we trust ourselves enough to have studied with the national team's technical staff the strategies of potential opponents,” Al Ketbi added.
“We are prepared to handle all contingencies and we hope that we will be successful on the mat.”
The UAE team’s head coach, Ramon Lemos, believes preparing in the United States will benefit the team.
“It’s all part of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation's plan for maintaining the players' readiness and concentration in the lead-up to the competition,” the Brazilian said.
“The Federation and the technical staff have complete faith in the national team's players. Each has the skills necessary to outperform the finest players from across the world.
“Helping our athletes maintain optimum energy and a balanced state of mind so they can perform at their best is arguably our top priority. It’s certainly the biggest goal of our technical staff.”
Lemos explained the qualification for the competition based on performances at the most prestigious international and continental tournaments over the past three years – 2019 through 2021.
“The participation in the World Games is limited to a group of the best and strongest players in the world ranked across every weight division,” he said.
“They are each here because they earned the necessary qualifying points in various tournaments, so the competition represents a significant test not just for our athletes, but for the top athletes of every national team in the world.”
Joining the five jiu-jitsu fighters in action on the same day are four Emiratis in muaythai – Ilyass Habibali, Noureddin Samir, Mohammed Saadi and Amin Muatessim.