Omar Al Fadhli says mental preparation will be the toughest challenge for the national team in the wake of Covid-19 crisis.
Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor
One of the UAE’s top jiu-jitsu star Omar Al Fadhli feels the mental obstacles are real and must be dealt with in an effective way by the national team before returning to the action.
The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) is planning to host the postponed 12th edition of the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Professional Championship in November.
The World Jiu-Jitsu Professional Championship is the highlight of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s calendar and normally takes place in April.
The 12th Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Professional Championship was scheduled for April 11-17 at the Mubadala Arena in Zayed Sports City. The championship was supposed to bring curtains down on the 2019-2020 season.
The organisers had to postpone the event following the outbreak of the virus. The UAE national Jiu-Jitsu team returned to active training in readiness for the resumption of international competition with a closed door training camp at the Armed Forces Officers Club and Hotel in Abu Dhabi last month.
It was the first training camp for the team after three months of halt following the COVID-19 pandemic.
UAEJJF resumed training with a closed door high performance camp at the Armed Forces Officers Club in Abu Dhabi last month following three months of inactivity following the coronavirus pandemic.
The governing body for jiu-jitsu in the Emirates ensured that participating players, coaches and training camp support staff were subject to stringent medical exams in line with local and international guidelines on containing the spread of the COVID-19. The camp was partly to prepare the athletes for the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship (World Pro) rescheduled for November.
"Due to Covid-19 pandemic, the jiu-jitsu fighters have stayed away from the game for the last three months. They can regain their skills level and get back into shape easily. Toughest challenge for them is to be mentally strong and overcome the psychological toll of the virus, said Fadhli.
"Resuming training can put you back in shape in a few months, but the biggest challenge for the team is mental preparation in the wake of coronavirus.
"The best way to deal is that athletes have to be mentally stronger and believe in themselves. To handle this situation you require more dedication,” he added.
"Mental strength is key, physical levels can be regained, but your determination and focus will need to be at its strongest. They need to have a stronger mindset and determination.”
The UAE athletes won 52 medals in the last edition of the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Professional Championship.
The World Jiu-Jitsu Professional Championship carries a prize purse of over Dhs2.5million which is considered as the richest championship in the world and draws more than 5,000 fighters from more than 100 countries.
Fadhli enjoyed a purple patch in 2019, winning gold medals in the youth and adult categories at the Jiu-Jitsu International Union’s (JJIF) World Championship and the World Pro in Abu Dhabi.
It was the second consecutive year for Fadhli to capture yellow metal in both youth and adult categories.
He termed the feat as a personal milestone for him. "I have kind of put my legacy there on the Worlds. It was hard for me, the pressure to keep up my performances in both categories but glad to accomplish that feat,” said the 19-year-old athlete, who is considered as one of the consistent performers.
A total of 43 national team players took re participating in the camp, which was led by national team coach, Ramon Limos, with the support of fellow coaches Marcelo Nunes, Eduardo Da Silva, Samuel Araujo, Pablo Desero, Michelle Maya, Mohammed Al Qubaisi and under-18 coach Ibrahim Al Hosani. Training involved minimal contact, while social distancing measures were in place in and around the camp.
All the UAE national team players were put through intense physical fitness and body fat composition tests after arriving at the camp, with the UAEJJF set to compare.
Mubarak Saleh Al Menhali, Director of the UAEJJF’s Technical Department, praised the dedication of the training players and said they would be ready to compete at the highest level of international championships once the sport resumes globally.
"The UAE national team has a challenging path ahead and it’s our responsibility to help them maintain and enhance successes at previous championships.” "All being well, they are facing a packed calendar, including China’s Beach Games, the JJIF World Championship and the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. We must prepare now to ensure our players are well-placed to capture the golds and raise the UAE flag high in the coming months.”added Menhali.
There was a real sense of excitement towards the event, with the Jiu-Jitsu Challenge Championship kicking off the 2023 jiu-jitsu season.
The final day of the three-day competition saw Sharjah Self-Defense Sports Club securing top spot, with Al Ain finishing runners-up and Bani Yas ending up in third place. The UAE topped the country’s ranking table, with Egypt and Syria following thereafter.
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