Emirati teenager Alyazyah Al Shehyari says her long-term ambition is to pursue a professional career in martial arts after adding to her burgeoning medal collection at the Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu Junior Open.
Alyazyah, 16, a blue belt, won the 61.5 kilogram weight division at the final day of competition at the UAE University auditorium, adding to the silver she gained at the American Kids Open in Los Angeles in April 2014. She says she knows she cannot rest on her laurels and must continue to improve.
“I have been in the sport long enough to know what it takes to reach a good level. In order to reach the level I want to achieve, I have to keep raising the bar at every competition,” she said after her victory over her Al Forsan teammate Asma Subaihi over the weekend.
“There are no easy fights in combat sport whether it is a local or international competition. You only have to make one mistake and you end up losing. So nothing comes easy.”
After trying her hand at ballet, gymnastic and judo Alyazyah said she took up jiu-jitsu when it was introduced in the school’s curriculum a few years back and has not looked back since.
“It was for fun at the beginning but when I was successful I spent more time in training. Now I’m hooked,” she said.
Emiratis amassed 116 gold medals in both the boys and girls divisions over the two days of competition, with UAE nationals accounting for 80 per cent of the 1,400 entries.
In the boys event, several players on the UAE national team finished on top of the podium. Ahmed Eskandar Al Blooshi, Saeed Hajhmdou, Fahed Ayed Al Otabi, Khalifa Mohammed Nassrati and Mansour Ahmed Al Blooshi, all won their respective weight divisions in the blue belt, the highest rated among the boys.
Saif Mohammed Al Himany, the Syrian teenager representing Baniyas Jiu-Jitsu Club, prevented the Emiratis making a clean sweep in the blue belt.
He got the better of Hassan Waleed Al Keseebi of Kuwait in the final of the 76.5kg division with Emirati Hamed Ahmed Alebri and American Omar Awad settling for bronze.
Saeed, a gold medallist at the American Kids Open, extended his undefeated record in local competition, winning the 81.5kg final over Russian Zalimkhan Shakhrudinov.
“I’m just glad my dream run in ju-jitsu continues,” he said. “Indeed it is a great feeling to be successful. It is also a good start and looking forward to the rest of the season.”
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