‘They have done the country proud’: UAE take stock of jiu-jitsu progress, and look ahead

The UAE have returned from Vietnam with an impressive medals haul in jiu-jitsu, and now they are immediately setting their sights on the 2018 Asian Games, Amith Passela reports.
Yahia Mansour Al Hammadi shown at last year's Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Yahia Mansour Al Hammadi shown at last year's Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // After topping the jiu-jitsu medals table in the men’s event at the Asian Beach Games, the UAE have firmly set their next objective as the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

The UAE men’s team returned with four gold, two silver and two bronze, while the women’s team bagged a bronze at the fifth edition of the Asian Beach Games in Danang, Vietnam.

“The success we have had in Vietnam is the result of our continuous development programmes and the hard work,” said Yahia Mansour Al Hammadi on arrival at the Abu Dhabi International Airport on Thursday morning.

Al Hammadi won a double gold in his 110-kilogram weight and the absolute division in Vietnam. It comes after he grabbed three gold medals in last month’s inaugural Asian Beach Championship in Sri Lanka.

“There are many competitions, including the Grand Slam events in Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Abu Dhabi and London, and the Abu Dhabi World Pro to look ahead to in the coming months,” Al Hammadi said of his plans.

“However, looking further ahead, our goal is to put the UAE firmly as a jiu-jitsu nation on the continent.

“Our target in two years’ time would be to win as many medals as possible at the Asian Games when jiu-jitsu will make its debut on the continent’s biggest sporting extravaganza.

“Obviously the bar will be raised at that time but I would like to think our own levels will also improve for that challenge. The Beach Games is a testimony of that.”

For Khalifa Nassrati Al Baloushi, 17, who did admirably well to claim a bronze in the 56kg, it’s a break time to continue his studies.

“I have to take time off to catch up on my studies,” he said. “There is pressure from home. I plan to keep myself in good shape during this period and plan to resume next year, hopefully when I get into the university.

“I really value the medal I won in Vietnam. It is easily the biggest achievement representing the senior national team but I’m not done yet. I’ll definitely be back for my country.”

Wadima Al Yafei created a piece of history by becoming the first Emirati female to win a medal at the senior level outside the country. She bagged a bronze in the 45kg.

“I’m overwhelmed that I managed to win a medal and set a precedent for the Emirati women,” said the grade 12 pupil from Al Ain.

The team was received by Abdelmunam Al Hashemi, chairman of both the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and the Jiu-Jitsu Asian Union.

“They have done the country proud and we hope they continue to enjoy success at the international competitions,” he said.

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Published: September 29, 2016 04:00 AM


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