UAE national team stars Omar Al Fadhli and Wadima Al Yafei warm up for 2021 season with gold medal displays
UAE athletes stood tall at the Al Ittihad Jiu-Jitsu Championship, bringing home 13 golds and a total haul of 43 medals in dominant display on the mats at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Abu Dhabi.
UAE national team star Omar Al Fadhli finished his 2020 in style, clinching the Adult 69kg gold with a flawless display. Meanwhile, Mohammed Al Kaabi (46kg), Ammar Al Dhaheri (50kg), Omar Al Suwaidi (55kg), Mayed Al Shehhi (60kg), Mahdi Al Awlaqy (81kg) and Saif Al Mansoori (94kg) all claimed gold in the Under-18 category. Battling performances from Hassan Sabeel and Abdullah Al Kubaisi saw both fighters claim silver medals in the 94kg and 120kg Adult class, respectively.
“Being on the mat and competing hard is something that I have truly missed. This has been a very unusual year, but it is very satisfying to close it out with the gold medal and a strong performance. I am grateful to the UAEJJF for organising such a high-quality tournament to help us finish the year in the right manner and to also ensure that we prepare in the right manner for the 2021 season. Facing some seasoned international fighters was a huge bonus, made for some great fights, and doing well against them has made me hungrier than ever for the upcoming season,” said Omar Al Fadhli.
In the female division, experienced campaigner Wadima Al Yafei added another gold medal to her collection, taking the top prize in the 45kg Adults category. Hamda Al Shkeili joined her on the top of the podium in the 48kg category, while Alia Al Dhanhani beat off stiff competition in the 52kg class to finish on top. In the Under-18 category, Ahoud Al Kaabi (48kg), Mariam Al Hammadi (52kg) and Shamma Al Kalbani (63 kg) all clinched gold medals.
With the open belt Al Ittihad Jiu-Jitsu Championship created to offer some crucial mat-time in the run up to the 2021 season, the tournament received a strong response, attracting 141 fighters across weight classes in the male and female divisions.
The Championship, held in strict adherence to local and federal health and safety protocols, also attracted a strong international field with fighters from Brazil, Russia, France, and across the GCC taking to the mats. Athletes from jiu-jitsu powerhouse Brazil claimed eight gold medals in a total of 15. Russian athletes also impressed, claiming two gold medals and one bronze.
For Shamma Al Kalbani, the return to competition had a calming effect after a challenging year. “It was really amazing to compete. It is my first tournament in over two months, and I was really nervous as to how I would perform,” she said.
“However, from the moment I arrived at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena and experienced the typical atmosphere of a competition, I regained my confidence. I felt normal on the mat, a feeling that I had been missing for some time. Even though I won the gold medal, I still believe I have a lot of work to do for the upcoming season, but this has been a great start,” Al Kalbani added.