Youth Worlds in Abu Dhabi an 'awesome' platform for youngsters

The UAE take positives forward after winning a gold, silver and two bronze on their first appearance

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The UAE could not add to their gold, silver and the two bronze medals from the first two days of the International Mixed Martial Art Federation (IMMAF) Youth World Championships but they certainly made their presence felt across the competition in Abu Dhabi.

The third edition of the World Youths drew a record 486 athletes from 41 countries, with the UAE making their debut, fielding 28.

Jasem Al Hosani struck gold to become the first Emirati to win a world title in the Youth Worlds, Abdulla Al Darmaki bagged a silver, while Zayed Al Hammadi and Zayed Al Dhabari each won a bronze.

Mohammed Al Awlaqi narrowly missed out in reaching the medal round when he was eliminated in the quarter finals after winning his first two fights by unanimous decision.

“To win a gold, silver and two bronze was a very good achievement for a country participating in the Youths Worlds for the first time,” the UAE’s Syrian coach Sbee Rahal said.

“Our objective was to win a gold or two, and we achieved that. We can take a lot of positives from our first appearance in the championships and return as a stronger team next year.”

Chase Gamble, the head coach of USA, lauded the IMMAF Youth Worlds as an “awesome platform” for the youngsters to cut their teeth in the martial art sport.

The Americans rounded off their campaign by winning two golds, a silver and three bronze on the fourth and final day at the Zayed Sports City’s Jiu-Jitsu Arena on Saturday.

“It’s absolutely awesome to provide the kids a platform to compete at the highest level, and compete under the IMMAF Rules without head contact is super special,” Gamble said.

“This is what they want to do for their life. That’s a cool thing in mixed martial art. Of course, to be good these kids have to really put in their efforts.

“It’s my second year with the national team and the kids with me have put in five to six hours a day, in the last 12 weeks ahead of this championship.

“Some of them have 10-year plans to reach the level of the UFC."

Updated: August 20, 2022, 5:00 PM