Talib Al Kirbi makes winning return from retirement as UAE top JJIF World Championship

Hosts top medal tally in U18, U21, men’s and 'masters' categories in Abu Dhabi

Talib Al Kirbi returned from retirement to win his first and the UAE’s second JJIF World Championship gold in the 'masters' category on the concluding day of the event at the Mubadala Arena on Sunday.

The Emirati, 36, emerged victorious in the 69kg masters-1 final against Romanian Remus Corbei on the referees’ decision after a 0-0 deadlock. It capped a great tournament for the UAE as they topped the medal tally in four categories – U18, U21, men’s and 'masters'.

“My federation told me I can still contribute to the UAE and asked me keep training, which I have been doing since I made my announcement to retire,” Al Kirbi said when asked of his return.

“So, I continued with my training and here I am winning gold for my country. It wasn’t a bad call after all, considering today’s result.”

Al Kirbi announced his retirement after the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship in April having failed to win the final for a fourth successive year.

“I wanted to take up another role as coach but that will now have to wait,” the double silver medallist at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat and Jakarta 2018 Asian Games added.

“This is my third JJIF worlds but first time in masters-1 (for over 35). The first two (in Thailand in 2015 and Poland in 2017) were in the men’s division and I couldn’t get into the medal rounds.

“The competition in the masters is similar to the men’s section. A majority of the fighters are coming from the top flight, like me. It’s not easy to win here at this level.

“I had to come through four fights and the final was the toughest of them all. However, Alhamdulillah, I made it by having better control on my opponent.”

Obaid Al Kaabi bagged gold for the host with victory over Mohammed Abdulhameed of Egypt in the 69kg Masters-2.

The UAE rounded off the nine-day championship with 13 gold, 11 silver and 16 bronze medals in the world youth (U21) and juniors (U18) categories, and three golds in the men’s category. In the Masters section, they finished with two gold, three silver and four bronze medals.

“This is our best ever result in the JJIF World Championship in terms of medals won,” said the UAE’s Brazilian coach Ramon Lemos.

“I told everyone that we are going to be the best in the world and we have achieved it. I’m so happy.

“We topped the medal table in an U16 championship in Romania last month and now we have topped the table in the U18, U21, men’s and masters.

“It has been a massive team effort backed by the UAE federation. We have one of the best jiu-jitsu programmes in the world and the athletes have worked so hard to achieve the results. It’s been a remarkable team effort.”

The highlights of the championship undoubtedly were the gold medal won by Faisal Al Ketbi in the men’s 94kg, and the double golds of Omar Al Fadhli and Zayed Al Katheeri, in the men’s and youth 62kg and 56kg, respectively.

Updated: November 24, 2019 06:56 PM


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