UAE Falcons fly high after Fadhli, Katheeri bag gold at Asian C’ship - GulfToday

UAE Falcons fly high after Fadhli, Katheeri bag gold at Asian C’ship

jiu-jitsu-Abu-Dhabi

Winners pose with their medals along with the officials after the presentation ceremony at the 4th Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championship.

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 Thursday in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.

Gold medals for Omar Al Fadhli and Zayed Al Katheeri 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, South Korea are on second spot 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 Fadhli and Katheeri 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, Katheeri defeated two opponents from the Philippines and one from Thailand on his march to gold, while Fadhli defeated three Mongolian rivals and one opponent from Japan to top his division. Fadhli also proved to be the king of subjugation by making three of his opponents tap-out in under two minutes.

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 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, Katheeri added: “This was my first continental championship, so my expectations were low. My goal was to train hard and give 100 per cent against strong competitors, but I honestly did not expect to win gold. I had no experience, but I wasn’t afraid of the challenge.”

After seeing the strong competition in Mongolia, 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 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.”

The Asian Championship awards 200 points to gold medallists, 160 points for the second place, 120 points for the third, 100 points for the fourth and 80 points for the fifth place, with all points being crucial in the race for the World Games 2021 spots.

The UAE squad features 23 of the country’s best athletes from five jiu-jitsu clubs across the UAE, including Al Ain, Al Jazira, Al Wahda, Baniyas and Team 777.

With 349 entries from 21 nations across Asia, the event is one of the most competitive editions to date, demonstrating the growing strength and popularity of jiu-jitsu across the continent.

Meanwhile, the new Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour season kicks off during the last week of July in Tokyo.

Grand Slam Tokyo will be held on July 29 as the Japanese capital will be one of five cities across four continents to host the annual series in 2018-19. The other cities are Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Abu Dhabi and London.