The UAE won two golds, two silvers and two bronze medals on the opening day of the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena on Wednesday.
Faisal Al Ketbi was magnanimous in his gold medal match against Abdullah Al Kubaisi in an all-Emirati men’s 94kg final, while Omar Al Suwaidi grabbed the second gold with victory over teammate Theyab Al Nuaimi by submission in another all-home affair in the 56kg final.
Joining them in the medals table were Shamma Al Kalbani (63kg) and Hamdah Al Shkeili (45kg) with bronze in the female division.
Al Ketbi was more than happy to take it easy against an Emirati opponent after reaching the final.
“There is no better way to motivate youngsters,” Al Ketbi, the most decorated Emirati jiu-jitsu fighter and the national team captain, told The National.
“Abdullah did all the hard work to reach the final and he deserves to take the gold home. He came through tough foreign opponents. For me, it’s like passing the flag to the next generation and I’m really glad to get these opportunities.”
Al Kubaisi, 22, won his first medal in four attempts at the Jiu-Jitsu Worlds and was delighted with his team captain’s gesture.
“I was drained after four fights,” he said. “Then I meet our big brother Faisal, who was gracious. This medal is very special for me. Now I’ll be preparing for the World Pro.”
The 14th edition of the week-long Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship kicks off soon after the Jiu-Jitsu Worlds from November 13.
Al Suwaidi, 19, also won a Jiu-Jitsu Worlds medal for the first time after a first round exit in his first attempt last year.
“I was so disappointed and was determined to win this time,” he said. “I’m also very happy my teammate Theyab reached the final. It was hard work but a rewarding day for both of us.
“We are competing against men and it surely was a grand effort. All the fights were hard and you can expect that at this level. Now we both can go into the World Pro with confidence.”
It was also the first World Championship medals for Al Shkeili and Al Kalbani; the latter was first Emirati to win a medal at the World Games - in Birmingham.
“I’m only 19, so I did pretty good against the more experienced women in this competition,” Al Kalbani, 19, said.
“Last year I didn’t reach the medal round but a lot of hard work went in from that time and now. It’s a new experience when you compete in adult events. But if you want to win at the highest level, this is the best way forward.”
Al Kalbani lost to the eventual winner Janine Mutton of Canada, who overcame German Naomi Stallar in a thrilling final.
Canada finished the day with two golds and two bronze, followed by Germany (1g, 1s and 1b), and Portugal (1g and 1b).