ABU DHABI: Last year was a game changer for jiu-jitsu in the UAE, with more homegrown talent competing and winning in local and international events on mats.
UAE athletes claimed 71 medals from two international championships in the second half of 2021, with success coming at the 5th Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championship and the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
The record year was amplified by the rise of the UAE’s women’s team, which claimed nine gold, eight silver and eight bronze medals at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in November.
Following the success of 2021, Polyana Lago, coach of the UAE National Women’s Jiu-Jitsu team, is now looking for her players to use their experience as a springboard to even more glory in 2022.
“We enter the new season with great ambitions after an impressive season and great achievements last year,” said the 41-year-old Brazilian, who only began working with the women’s team in the summer of 2021.
“We actually had two really excellent weeks; we were confined to a hotel and were able to train together; it was a good experience for each of us.
“We had a fantastic season last year; our women champions put in an outstanding performance, particularly at the World Championship, when they won a total of 25 medals. Some of the girls did really well,” she added.
Lago said that the new format of the Mother of the Nation Jiu-Jitsu League helped the UAE national women’s team achieve the historic feat. “It contributed significantly to the championship’s outstanding results last year, as well as making it more professional. We were able to determine other national team talents as a result of the event,” she added.
She has high hopes for the 2022 season, with her athletes set to take part in a host of major events, including the Mother of the Nation Cup, Jiu-Jitsu President’s Cup and Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Ahead of this year’s events, Lago revealed that she is “working on key areas of development” with her players.