ابوظبي-نبراس The UAE Falcons, the country’s national Jiu-Jitsu team, sit atop the medals table at the 4th Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championship after an impressive medal haul on the final day of men’s competition in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
Gold medals for Omar Al Fadhli and Zayed Alkatheeri in the under 62 kg and 56 kg categories, respectively, coupled with Ali Al Ghaithi’s bronze in the under 56 kg division, elevated the UAE Falcons to the summit of the medals table - with three gold and four bronze in total - after the penultimate day of competition.
Going into the Championship’s final day on Friday, South Korea is in second-place overall with two gold medals, while Jordan and Thailand are tied third with one gold each.
Watched by high-profile attendees including Panagiotis Theodoropoulos, President of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation (JJF); Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, Secretary-General of the Asian Jiu-Jitsu Federation; Yousef Al Batran, Board Member of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation; and Mubarak Al Menhali, Technical Director at the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, spectacular performances by Al Fadhli and Alkatheeri highlighted the increasing prowess of a youthful UAE Falcons team readying to carry the national flag into the 2020 Asian Games in China.
After his first-round opponent withdrew, Alkatheeri defeated two opponents from the Philippines and one from Thailand on his march to gold, while Al Fadhli defeated three Mongolian rivals and one opponent from Japan to top his division. Al Fadhli also proved to be the king of subjugation by making three of his opponents tap-out in under two minutes.
Gold medal heroes reflect on success
Al Fadhli insisted his achievement highlighted the success of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s wide-reaching domestic programmes and the astute leadership of chairman Abdul Moneim Al Hashemi for creating an environment where the UAE Falcons can perform at the highest level internationally.
“My focus was not purely on winning the gold, I simply wanted to honour my country in this huge continental sports forum,” said Al Fadhli. “Winning gold enhances my desire to keep competing on a global level, but the real pleasure is seeing the UAE flag raised higher than all others in this competition.
Commenting on his triumph, Alkatheeri added: “This was my first continental championship, so my expectations were low. My goal was to train hard and give 100 percent against strong
competitors, but I honestly did not expect to win gold. I had no experience, but I wasn’t afraid of the challenge.”
JJF President lauds “huge success” of 4th Asian Championships
After seeing the final day of men’s competition in Mongolia, Panagiotis Theodoropoulos, President of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation (JJF), believes the UAE and other Asian nations are now firmly established as major global players in the sport.
“This tournament has featured a remarkable standard of competition, proving the sport has developed significantly on the continent level,” said Theodoropoulos. “The UAE is also significantly enriching other Asian countries’ experiences in the sport because Abdul Moneim Al Hashemi, as chairman of the Jiu-Jitsu Asian Federation, has broadened the base of practitioners by increasing the number of federation members and doubling the number of continental tournaments.”
As for the future of the sport globally, Theodoropoulos added: “We are on the right track and there is great growth at all levels. Our next focus is increasing the number of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners from the African continent because there is strong desire by many African countries to enhance and grow the sport.”