UAE hero Faisal Al Ketbi won the gold medal in the open Men’s under 85kg competition while his UAE Falcons team-mates claimed three bronze medals as the national team got their campaign off to a great start at the fourth Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championship being hosted by the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, until 21st July.
At the Central Sports Palace, Al Ketbi showed his dominance at the mat, beating his Kyrgyz rival with eight points to nothing, while Yahya Al Hammadi and Sultan Al Ali claimed bronze in the over 94 kg category and Mohamed Ali Alsuwaidi picked up a medal at under 69 kg weight.
The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Falcons squad features 23 of the country’s best athletes from five jiu-jitsu clubs across the UAE, including Al Ain, Al Jazira, Al Wahda, Baniyas and Team 777. After claiming 14 medals at the recent Kazakhstan Jiu-Jitsu Grand Prix, the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Falcons were in a confident mood heading to Mongolia.
With 349 entries from 21 nations across Asia, the event is shaping up to be the most competitive edition to date, demonstrating the growing strength and popularity of jiu-jitsu across the continent.
The high-profile opening ceremony was attended by Abdullah Abdul Rahman Al Tunaiji, the UAE Ambassador to Mongolia; Panagiotis Theodoropoulos, President of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation; Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, Secretary-General of the Asian Jiu-Jitsu Federation; Erdenebaatar Khash-erdene, President of the Mongolia Jiu-Jitsu Association; Munkhbileg Enebish, Director of Physical Culture & Sports Policy Department of Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports of Mongolia; and representatives of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation.
Six UAE male stars were in action across four weight categories on day one and Jiu-Jitsu Asian Union general secretary Al Shamsi congratulated the UAE athletes for a successful opening day, stressing that the best is yet to come for the team.
Al Ketbi dedicated his gold to the wise UAE leadership, stressing that it was the least he had to offer to the country, the people and the leadership. He put the difficult journey towards gold down to his desire to raise the UAE flag as a champion. Al Ketbi said, "We have highlighted that the UAE is always at the forefront of the Asian continent and this is what we are trying to accomplish on the mat from one tournament to another. The future is bright, and the UAE will achieve more Jiu-Jitsu continental and global triumphs."
Abdullah Abdulrahman Abdullah Al Tunaiji, Ambassador of the UAE to the Republic of Mongolia, said the UAE success at Jiu-Jitsu was an example of their efforts not only locally and across the Asian content but also on the international stage. He hailed the UAE message of love and harmony to the Asian continent and praised the event organisers in Mongolia.
Al Tunaiji also paid tribute to all Jiu-Jitsu athletes and thanked the Asian Jiu-Jitsu Union and its president Abdul Monem Al Hashemi, also chairman of the UAE Jiu Jitsu Federation, for all the hard work which had led to unprecedented success over the course of a few short years.
"The number of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners has reached almost 150,000, and everyone is striving to make this sport a way of life to create a generation that is capable of taking responsibility and carrying the flag in various fields," said Al Tunaiji.
Bronze medallist Al Ali, who competed in the 94 kg plus category, added that the future is bright as he strives to improve his level within the game. Admitting that mistakes had cost him a shot at gold, Al Ali said he would learn and use the experience, while striving to improve through training sessions with Brazilian coach Ramón Limos.
The Asian Championship awards 200 points to gold medallists, 160 points for the second place, 120 points for the third, 100 points for the fourth and 80 points for the fifth place, with all points being crucial in the race for the World Games 2021 spots.
Participants in the competition are competing in 14 categories. Weights for men are under 56kg, under 62kg, under 69kg, under 77kg, under 85kg, under 94kg and above 94kg, while the female categories are under 45kg, under 48kg, under 52kg, under 57kg, under 63kg, under 70kg, and above 70kg.
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