JEDDAH: Nine-year-old Saudi Mawiya Zahid competed in the 36 kilograms division of the white/grey belt category and won silver, making her the first Saudi to compete in this category, let alone nab second place.
The nine-year-old overpowered on the mat and showed her skills. Mawiya took up taekwondo and jiu-jitsu and excelled while training at the Legendary Heroes Martial Arts Academy in Jeddah.
After winning silver, Mawiya admitted: “I was excited and scared at the same time, but I wanted to compete and I want to see how far I can go. I want to learn more and go to other places and compete as well.”
Coach Mohammed Abbas of Legendary Heroes Martial Arts Academy in Jeddah saw that young Mawiya was a very determined and disciplined child, which prompted him to have her compete in several competitions.
"When competing with boys at the academy, you can see how professional she is. She’s a fast learner too and I believe that she fought very well in the Abu Dhabi championship.
“I bet that she would’ve won gold if there was more time given. We’re moving her to the next level in training where she can learn how to pick up points, which will be easy since she’s a focused child.
“She has what it takes to continue in her training for jiu-jitsu and taekwondo. With the support that she has from her parents, she can go a long way,” said coach Mohammed Abbas.
“My daughter has always been the sensitive type, but very much into wanting to prove herself and defend herself. She’s never been the trouble maker, instead she looks for other means to get out of problems,” said Lina Qummossani, Mawiya’s mother, who works as a photographer.
No one in Mawiya’s family pursued the sport, but she became interested from watching bouts on television.
Lina added: “She was always looking for a sport that would suit her and she was smart enough to pick taekwondo and jiu-jitsu. She’s typically a very punctual child, and has a lot of self-discipline, she fits right in.”
After she took part in local school competitions, winning first place three times in a row, her coaches spoke to her parents to alert them to her talent.
She preferred jiu-jitsu to other sports, and began competing with boys her same age, growing in confidence as she did so.
She took to teasing the boys and was always trying to coax them to fight her, as she found that the boys were more disciplined than the girls in class.
According to her mother, she always wanted to prove herself between her challenges. She was so enthusiastic that her coaches suggested to her parents that she should try her chances at the championship, something her parents approved of wholeheartedly.
“I’m proud to say that she was the only girl among 13 boys that went with the academy to the UAE where she competed in the 36kg division of the white/grey belt category. She won second place, but in all fairness, it was her first international competition and an amazing accomplishment at that,” said Lina.
Her participation is all the more remarkable in a sport in which males dominate, particularly in Saudi Arabia. But attitudes to martial art sports are changing in the Kingdom, with more young females than ever. Anecdotal reports from coaches show Saudi girls are showing growing interest in martial arts sports, a clear sign of public acceptance.
As for Mawiya’s parents, so delighted are they with their daughter’s achievement, that they are signing her up for more international competitions.