Faisal Al Ketbi completed his golden double while teenager Omar Al Fadhli showed why the future is bright as the UAE concluded the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games jiu-jitsu tournament in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan as the leading medal winners.
Al Ketbi secured the absolute class final for his second gold of the tournament after Al Fadhli, who at 17 is the youngest member in the squad, had struck gold in the 56-kilogramme weight.
The country’s No 1 ranked fighter and the longest serving member of the national team, Al Ketbi overcame Iranian Masoud Hassanzadhevsoukal after the latter was disqualified when trailing 2-0 on points.
“Ashgabat was my biggest competition for 2017 and it’s a great feeling to have achieved that target,” said Al Ketbi, who won his 94kg weight final on Monday night.
“Aside from the double gold I won, I want to congratulate my team for achieving good overall results.
“We provided the opportunity for some of our youngsters and they were very promising on the big stage. I have seen them in both competition and training, but they were impressive against stronger opponents in Ashgabat.
“The results, though, are not surprising for the kind of support we receive from our federation. The future looks bright for UAE jiu-jitsu with the new generation of fighters already producing results.”
Al Ketbi had to meet opponents who were heavier and taller in the open weight but he drew on all of his experience and technical skills to prevail.
Al Ketbi first beat Sami Shamseddin of Jordan 2-0 on points following a takedown midway through the six-minute contest before outclassing Masoud Jalilvand to reach the final.
Al Ketbi’s teammate, Yahia Mansour Al Hammadi, suffered a narrow loss to Hassanzadhevsoukal 2-1 on advantage points in the other semi-final. He shared the bronze with Jalilvand.
Al Fadhli showcased his technical skills as well as his mental and physical strengths with a stand-out performance over his older rivals on the biggest stage so far of his blooming career.
“The team had faith in me and I’m glad I managed to fulfill their expectations,” said Al Fadhli who was first called up to the senior national team at the Asian Beach Championship in Sri Lanka in July 2016, where he won a silver.
“I was really honoured to stand on the podium and hear the national anthem and the UAE flag raised on such a big competition.”
Zayed Al Mansoori took silver in the 62kg division while Said Al Mansoori and Obaid Al Nuaimi added a bronze each in the 62kg and 56kg respectively.
The Emirati females also put up an excellent show to add a silver and bronze to the bronze they won on Monday, an impressive haul considering six of the seven fighters in the squad were aged 16 and 17.
Mouza Al Shamsi clinched silver in the women’s 49kg weight class. It is the best result achieved by an Emirati female at senior level in an international competition.
Thailand’s Suwanan Boonsorn won the gold after a submission lock on the Emirati teenager.
Al Shamsi reached the final by first seeing off Malika Boboeva of Tajikistan 10-0 on points before overcoming Turkmenistan's Gulbahar Madreymowa 1-0 on advantage points.
Reem Abdulkareem added another bronze for the women’s team following her victory over teammate Wadima Al Yafei on points 3-0 in the 45kg weight.
The UAE topped the jiu-jitsu medals table with four golds, four silvers and seven bronze.