Faisal Al Ketbi’s gold medal-winning performance at the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation’s World Championship in Bogota on Saturday drew high praise from no less than Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Competing in the 94-kilogram weight division, the 29-year-old fighter drew a first-round bye. He then overcame Canada's Nathan dos Santos, Ivan Nastenko of Ukraine and the Croatian Matko Kvesic in the final.
Piotr Baginski of Poland and Brazil's Xavier Silva shared the bronze medal in the weight division which drew 13 competitors.
The congratulatory tweet from Sheikh Mohammed, who is the main patron of jiu-jitsu in the country, brought even more cheer to Al Ketbi.
When asked to whom he dedicated his victory, he told The National: "His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, our federation and all Emirati citizens.
“My success and achievements are all because of the unstinting support that I have received from His Highness and the federation," Al Ketbi pointed out. "They provided me the best of the facilities and the opportunities to compete at the highest level."
Abdulmunam Al Hashemi, chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, was also pleased to see Al Ketbi’s achievements being recognised by Sheikh Mohammed, and he called it a proud moment for the sport in the country.
“To see the UAE flag hoisted on a world stage is one of the most important objectives of jiu-jitsu, and His Highness's words of appreciation is an honour we are all proud of,” Al Hashemi said.
“Faisal has once again demonstrated his potential on the world stage and we laud his achievements as another milestone and wishing him more success in all his endeavours.”
Al Ketbi will now be even more determined to double his tally as he prepares for the absolute division, to be held on the final day of the competition on Monday.
The Emirati, whose career took off when he triumphed on debut at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Championship in 2009, is pleased with how the season has panned out for him.
He began by winning gold and silver medals at the World Games in Poland in July. He enjoyed similar successes the following month at the Asian Championship in Vietnam before taking home two golds at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in September.
Al Ketbi is determined to ride the wave as he looks for more titles and gold medals.
“I wish I can continue to improve and keep the UAE’s flag flying high at every competition that I take part," he said. “To see the UAE’s flag hoisted and hear the national anthem in a world event is a proud moment for me and my country.
"I wish I can replicate the success again in the open weight.”
The UAE team arrived in the Colombian capital with four fighters, including Al Ketbi, Obaid Al Nuaimi (56kg), Saeed Al Mazrouei (62kg) and Saood Al Hammadi (77kg). The remaining three men were scheduled to appear in competition late on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, the third Al Shaheed (Martyrs) Championship for boys at the Under 18 level saw more than 1,000 fighters compete for the 142 gold medals available at Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi's Zayed Sports City on Saturday.
Highlights included wins for junior internationals Mana Al Breiki and Humaid Al Kaabi in the juvenile blue belt special categories 1 and 2, respectively.