DUBAI: The UAE’s top jiu-jitsu fighters warmed up in style for the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship (ADWPJJC) by capturing a total of 28 medals at the weekend’s AJP Tour’s Abu Dhabi Grand Slam at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena.
Zayed Al-Katheeri (56 kg), Omar Al-Fadhli (62 kg), and Mohamed Al-Amri (77 kg) gave notice of their potential to hold their own against the best in the world with the trio bagging gold medals in their respective weight classes in the purple belt division.
In the women’s categories, Wadima Al-Yafei (49 kg) and Mariam Al-Ameri (95 kg) clinched silver medals while Shouq Al-Dhanhani (49 kg), Ashwaq Al-Khoori (55 kg) and Bashyer Al-Matrooshi (62 kg) all took home bronze medals from the purple belt division.
Adding to the UAE’s gold medal count were Haitham Hanawi (62 kg) in the masters 1 category, Abdulla Al-Marzooqi (77 kg), Rashed Al-Naqbi (94 kg) and Khalifa Andeez (120 kg) in the masters 2 class.
The UAE’s medal haul ensured that it racked up 92,400 points and clinched second place on the national ranking list behind Brazil, whose dominance in the sport saw them aggregate 308,400 points and open up a comfortable lead. On the club rankings, Palms Sports Team 777 (107,100 points) took first place ahead of Al- Wahda (84,600) and Commando Group (52,200).
Al-Fadhli, recently on a hot streak in AJP Tour events having won the gold medal in the Moscow, said the tournament’s timing and level of competition provided the perfect end to his preparation.
“My category had some really strong fighters and also opponents that I had not faced before,” he said.
“Taking on fighters whose fighting styles were completely unknown was the perfect way to prepare myself before entering the ADWPJJC where I will be facing similar challenges. I am glad that this tournament was scheduled in the lead-up to an important competition as I believe that we will take a lot of positive momentum into the ADWPJJC.”
Al-Amri beat off a strong challenge from Brazil’s Cadmiel Farias to emerge as the winner in the 77 kg category. The Al-Wahda fighter said that the chance to compete against a strong field of South American athletes was exactly what he was looking for.
“When I started the day, my goal was to just concentrate on staying on the mat as long as possible, take all the bouts I had the full distance and just condition my body and mind to stay in the game as long as possible,” Al-Amri said. “Eventually things worked out really well, I built up a nice rhythm and the gold medal has really boosted my confidence. I am now looking to do similarly well at the ADWPJJC,” he said.
Fahad Al-Shamsi, general secretary of UAEJJF, the organizers of the ADWPJJC, said that the positive response received for the Grand Slam was proof of the UAE’s readiness to welcome the international jiu-jitsu community to its events.