Jakarta: It turned out to be a Golden Friday for the UAE as their jiu-jitsu fighters lifted spirits in the camp by clinching a gold and three silvers at the 18th Asian Games at the Jakarta Convention Centre Hall.
Ali Al Lanjawi had earlier provided UAE with the first gold of the Asian Games by winning the jet-ski runabout limited at Palembang, in the South Sumatra province. The successes meant the UAE moved up to 14th spot on the medals table, having won no medals before Friday.
UAE’s Hamad Nawad on the eve of his 18th birthday handed UAE’s first jiu-jitsu gold by beating compatriot Khalid Al Balooshi with a foot-lock in the men’s -56kg final.
The medal rush started when Mahra Al Hanaei, who turned 17 on Thursday, bagged silver following her loss to Cambodia’s Jessa Khan by submission in the final. Talib Al Kirbi rounded off the tally for the day by providing the UAE with the third silver going down 2-0 to Kyrgyzstan’s Torokan Uulu Bagynbai in the 69kg category final.
The UAE had gone without a medal for five days in a row and there was a lot of agony and despair within the squad. However, that was put to rest on Friday as soon as the jiu-jitsu fighters stepped on the mat and took to it as if they owned it.
“I’m going to frame this medal and have it hung on the door of my home for everyone to see as soon as they enter,” said a jubilant Nawad.
“This is the best birthday present I would say. One cannot ask for more.
Nawad added that fighting against his good friend Al Baloushi was difficult especially having lost to him in the last three previous meetings.
“He is a good friend, but when I step on the mat I don’t have any friends as I represent the country,” he said. “The stake was very high here and it was too good an opportunity to miss winning an Asian Games medal.”
Nawad’s victory couldn’t have been more pleasing as it came after he spent anxious moments awaiting the result of an appeal after he had lost his semi-final battle to Mongolian Erdenebaatar Ulziitogtokh 5-3. The referee had wrongly awarded two points to the Mongolian, it was proved following a video referral.
“It was a refereeing mistake. I passed guard before three seconds, but the referee didn’t take note of the time and awarded three points to my opponent. I was leading 2-0 at that point,” Nawad said.
“We knew it was a mistake and waited for the fight to end to appeal. It was an agonising wait and had the result gone against me I would have almost had a heart attack,”
Nawad called his mother Mona immediately after clinching the medal.
“She has been my main support, soon after I won I called her and she was screaming with joy,” he said. “They have been following my fights and I’m so happy for myself and my country.”
Despite the silver, Al Hanaei, was hugely disappointed with the way she lost in the finals to Khan. She was in tremendous form going into the finals after registering an authoritative win in the semis over Vietnam’s Thi Thanh Minh Duong by a whopping 14-0 margin. However, in the finals she failed to rise to the occasion and lost meekly following a submission by armlock from Khan.
Al Hanaei’s compatriot Wadima Al Yafei also had a great opportunity to grab bronze after battling through the repechage beating Iran’s Nahid Pirhandy. However, in the bronze medal contest she fell short against Duong, who was tamed by Al Hanaei earlier.
There are three more gold medals up for grabs for Emirati jiu-jitsu fighters on Saturday.
Mohammad Al Marzouqi, spokesman of the UAE jiu-jitsu Federation, speaking about UAE’s success said: “We had the UAE flag raised four times and one national anthem played twice. It is a very proud moment for us. The medal winning was inaugurated by a lady and that’s a remarkable achievement for the Emirati women.”
Women’s 49kg: Final: Jessa Khan (CAM) beat Mahra Al Hanaei (UAE) by submission; Bronze medal: Thin Thanh Minh Duong (VIE) beat Wadima Al Yafei (UAE) 3-0; Margarita Ochoa (PHI) beat Jenna Napolis (PHI) 2-0; Men’s 56kg: Hamad Nawad (UAE) beat Khalid Al Baloushi (UAE) by submission. Bronze medal: Nurzhan Seiduali (KAZ) bt Akmal Amirov (UZB) 4-2. Kemal Meredov (TKM) bt Erdenebaatar Ulziittogtokh (MGL)
Men’s 69kg Gold Medal: Torokan Bagynbai Uulu (KGZ) beat Talib Al Kirbi (UAE) 2-0; Bronze medal: Banpot Lertthaisong (THA) bt Zhakshylyk Uranov (KGZ) 5-0; Nartey Kazhekov (KAZ) bt Jelilmuhammet Hojamyradov (TKM) (Referees decision after a 0-0 deadlock).