ABU DHABI: The UAE won the most medals on Saturday as the AJP Tour UAE National Pro kicked off at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Abu Dhabi with players from 50 nations representing different clubs and academies.
The competition, organized by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation in partnership with Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Pro, attracted hundreds of players from more than 50 nations and drew a big crowd on the opening day in the UAE capital.
The UAE National Pro is the fourth of five rounds of AJP events, which are held across the nation. The first day of the tournament saw Commando Group winning first place, while Palms Sports ranked runner-up and A.F.N.T in third place. In terms of country rankings, Colombia and Brazil secured second and third places respectively.
“The strong presence of the elite clubs and academies from the UAE as well as other countries enriches the competitions and aligns with the UAEJJF’s vision to promote sports, expanding the base of participants and creating an ideal environment for the development of champions,” said Youssef Abdullah Al-Batran, a board member of the UAEJJF.
“The UAE National Pro, which featured hundreds of male and female competitors from more than 50 countries, serves as a mini version of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. The large crowd cheering for the winners highlights jiu-jitsu as one of the world’s and region’s fastest-growing sports.”
Tariq Al-Bahri, general manager of AJP, said: “Our championships enjoy a prestigious international standing and provide the opportunity for sports lovers around the world to participate and maintain their levels and readiness for various upcoming competitions. One of the most important gains of the AJP championships is that [they pave] the way for a group of future stars of the game who represent the mainstay of the national teams.”
Ali Al-Tunaiji, a yellow belt player for Al-Jazira club, expressed his delight at winning the gold in the teen category, 84 kg division.
“We were able to overcome the challenges and win the gold medal despite the tough and arduous competitions because of our thorough preparation for the championship and ongoing training,” he said. “I will continue to put in a lot of effort for future competitions, especially the Vice President Cup and the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.”
Brazil’s Thay Paixao of Al-Ain Club, who won the women’s 80 kg gold medal, said: “My [goal is] clear for the next stage, which is to prepare to participate in the upcoming championships. I have now obtained 1,000 rating points and I hope I can achieve more medals during the annual Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.”
The UAE national players put on exceptional performances in the Masters class, winning several gold medals. Salem Al-Asmar (69 kg) and Ibrahim Al-Hammadi (94 kg) of A.F.N.T Academy and Hamid Al-Balushi (120 kg) of Shabab Al-Ahli Club were among the winners on Saturday.
“I am super happy that I was able to win a medal in the Masters 2 competition and climb the podium, especially as winning this specific category involves a great deal of experience, patience and perseverance,” Al-Balushi said.
The championship activities will continue on Sunday with competitions for the Amateur and Professional categories.