Omar Al Fadhli is reaping the rewards for his efforts six years after taking up jiu-jitsu at the age of 12 and things could be about to get even better for him.
Last month, he became the first Emirati to win a gold medal at the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Sweden, and on Wednesday, he became the first Emirati jiu-fighter ever to receive an individual sponsorship to continue his development.
Palms Sports, the technical arm of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, handed him an enhanced new sponsorship contract which includes his university education, technical and financial support, and regular follow ups on his progress.
“Omar has been part of our high performance program but he’s reached a level that requires an enhanced contract to continue on his journey as a world champion,” said Fouad Darwish, general manager of Palms Sports.
“Any contract has to have a time-frame and this is for 12 months that would take care of Omar’s welfare. It’s renewable, unless Omar decides otherwise. We at Palms Sports have no commercial agenda whatsoever in this but to help spot talent and get them to where they need to be.”
Al Fadhli was one of the 45 Emirati youngsters to be selected for the high performance training and receive a sponsorship from Palms Sports 18 months ago.
“The contract I just signed gives me the opportunity to concentrate in my jiu-jitsu full time,” said Al Fadhli of the new individual deal that he had received.
He added that the extra support was something he believed will help him increase his competitive levels as he can concentrate solely on the sporting side of his life.
“It’s something that has been building from the start of my career, particularly when I became successful," he said. "This certainly will help me a great deal because I don’t have to think about anything other than my jiu-jitsu.”
Al Fadhli won a silver medal at the Asian Games in Jakarta in August before his gold medal at the world championship. He said they were both “very special” for him and his country.
“This sponsorship now allows me to take part in competitions outside the country more frequently. It means more experience for me in the top flight.”
The contractual obligations Al Fadhli signed 18 months ago had an age clause and since turning 18 earlier this year, a new contract was drawn up for him to include more benefits.
“We provided sponsorship for 45 youngsters, including Omar,” said Darwish. “Omar is 18 plus and his requirements are different when he was 16.
“We are a sports management company that enhances its effort with the pool of talent to make them champions. Our contract today is a continuation of the agreement we signed previously.
“We have more than 87,000 school children practicing the martial art under the school program and I’m confident there are many more talents that will come out from this productions lines.
“We also want Omar to complete his university studies as per the directives of our management. We want world champions empowered academically.”
Al Fadhli has completed his schooling and will decide on his university entrance after the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Professional Championship, which takes place in April.