UAE Jiu-jitsu hit the beach in Sri Lanka: ‘Good platform for us to prepare’ for Asian Beach Games

Faisal Al Ketbi, the Emirati jiu-jitsu star, believes the UAE as one of the best in the continent and expects to return from Sri Lanka with a rich haul of medals from their 20-member squad, reports Amith Passela.

UAE Jiu-jitsu's Faisal Al Ketbi. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
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NEGOMBO, Sri Lanka // Faisal Al Ketbi, the Emirati jiu-jitsu star, says the inaugural Asian Beach Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Sri Lanka also doubles as a dress rehearsal for all the participating nations at the Fifth Asian Beach Games in Danang, Vietnam, from September 24 to October 3.

The UAE are among 14 nations in the championship which has 14 gold medals up for grabs for both men and women from Friday through Sunday at the Jetwing Sea Hotel in the popular coastal town frequented by tourists 40 kilometres from Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital.

The championship concludes with a No-Gi (without the traditional kimono) event on Sunday.

“It is not only a good platform for us to prepare but also for all those who travel to Vietnam,” Al Ketbi said of the championship in Sri Lanka.

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The Emirati believes the UAE as one of the best in the continent and expects to return with a rich haul of medals from their 20-member squad.

“I believe we are one of the leading players in terms of development and promoting jiu-jitsu in the continent,” Al Ketbi said. “We have travelled with a mixture of players both experienced and youngsters as two are eligible to compete in one weight division.

“Actually we have two squads in training for competitions. After this event the two squads will continue to train in Abu Dhabi, one for the Asian Beach Games in Vietnam and the other for the Grand Slam Los Angeles, both in September.”

Khalifa Nasarati, 17, is one of the youngsters in the squad along with Omar Mohammed, 16, and he thinks the difference for him, perhaps, would be the strength and power.

“I think I can match the skills,” he said. “This is my second time in an adult competition after the Madrid Open in Spain last month, but these are definitely the learning curve and the way forward.”

Hamdan Al Bloushi, the Emirati wrestling international turned jiu-jitsu fighter, added: “Here we get a chance to compete against opponents whom we are likely to meet again in Vietnam.

“Even if we lose, we have the opportunity to work on the weaker areas for a rematch. It will be the same for the others. So everyone benefits from this competition.”

The UAE’s Brazilian coach Roberto Lima thinks the competition provides an opportunity to test the levels of both his wards and their opponents.

“Our final test will be Vietnam but of course we can certainly get an idea on the strength of our squad,” he said.

“Some are here to gain experience but we also have an eye for winning medals which is important for us.”​

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