Omar Al Fadhli said being named Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award for Juvenile Emirati Sportsman of the Year has given him “extra motivation” ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam.
Al Fadhli, 17, received his award from Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, at the ceremony at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Wednesday.
“It was such a great honour for me and for jiu-jitsu,” said Al Fadhli who will compete in the blue belt 62-kilogramme weight at the Mubadala Arena at Zayed Sports City on Friday and Saturday.
“This award couldn’t have come at a better time. It matters because such awards provide us the motivation which we need when preparing for big competitions, like in a Grand Slam.”
Al Fadhli’s national team colleague Wadima Al Yafei was named best juvenile in the women’s cateogry and the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation bagged the award for the Best Organistaion.
“These awards for jiu-jitsu are in recognition of the achievements of the athletes and the work of our federation,” added Al Fadhli.
“The sport is comparatively new to the UAE but the achievements have been incredible.
“Jiu-jitsu has been included in the 2018 Asian Games for the first time and bidding for a slot in the 2024 Olympics. I wish I will have the good fortune of being a part of this historic occasions.”
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Al Fadhli is on a roll having won six gold medals in as many competitions this season, including the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan, the Asian Championship in Vietnam and the Grand Slam Tokyo juvenile division.
In Abu Dhabi, the young Emirati makes his first appearance in the adult division at a Grand Slam event.
“The adult division in a Grand Slam draws fighters from all over the world and I expect to be one of the toughest competitions for me this season,” Al Fadhli said.
“I’m not much worried about my opponents, though, because winning is my objective as always. At some point I have to make the switch [to the adult division] and a home competition is a good start.”
The organisers of the Grand Slam Abu Dhabi have added a new Teen Division due to the high number of entries this year.
Male and female black belts will also get the chance to bag a bonus cash prize of US$1,000 (Dh3,672) if they can win by submission.
Among those in line for the cash prize is Brazil's 69kg black belt world champion Paulo Miyao.
“The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam is one of the top tournaments,” Miyao said. “I have competed and won many times at the Grand Slams and to be back again here in Abu Dhabi is really incredible.”