ABU DHABI: The athletes of the UAE National Jiu-Jitsu Team have completed their official weigh-ins at the World Games in Alabama, with their focus now on repeating their medal-winning performances at the previous games in 2017.
The Emirati athletes arrive in confident mood after enjoying a medal-winning streak over the last few months. The ‘fantastic five’ of Faisal Al-Ketbi (85 kilograms), Muhammad Al-Amri (77 kilograms), Muhammad Al-Suwaidi (69 kilograms), Shamma Al-Kalbani (63 kilograms) and Balqees Abdelkareem (48 kilograms) believe they can repeat their recent successes, which effectively earned them spots in Alabama in the first place.
“The team prepared well during a month-long camp held in Los Angeles,” said Al-Ketbi, the captain of the national team. “The players’ focus and determination are at the highest levels, which will inspire them to replicate last year’s continental and international successes and strengthen the UAE’s position globally.”
At the 2017 Games, Al-Ketbi came in under the radar to claim gold with a series of strong technical performances.
“It is different this time from the previous edition that I participated in, (held in) Poland in 2017, because there are five players representing the UAE, all of whom are champions on both the continental and international levels, and all of whom came to Birmingham with the intention of winning gold and standing atop podiums.”
Al-Ketbi added that over the past five years, jiu-jitsu has undergone a significant leap in quality in the Emirates courtesy of the significant support from the UAE’s leadership, and the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s efforts and strategic plan to grow the sport.
“We are fully aware that the competitions won’t be easy due to the presence of strong players from different continents, but we trust ourselves enough to have studied with the national team's technical staff the strategies of potential opponents,” Al-Ketbi added. “We are prepared to handle all contingencies and we hope that we will be successful on the mat.”
Under the direction of coaches Ramon Lemos and Polyana Lago, the squad held a practice session on Wednesday in a positive, upbeat mood. The session was attended by Tariq Al-Bahri, director of the support services department, and Mubarak Al-Menhali, director of the UAEJJF technical department, and head of the UAE delegation to the US.
After the session, Abdel Moneim Al-Hashemi, chairman of the UAEJJF, president of the Jiu-Jitsu Asian Union, and senior vice president of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation, called the UAE delegation to offer his support and encouragement.