Dubai: The UAE’s jiu-jitsu contingent made their way back from the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang on Monday, with a haul of nine medals in tow.
Their contribution to the medal tally — three gold, six silver and three bronze — meant the UAE have achieved a national record at a Games, and were received at Abu Dhabi International Airport on late on Monday night.
Jiu-jitsu is a massively popular sport in the UAE and that was reflected in the team’s success in Jakarta over the past week, with Hamad Nawad, Faisal Al Ketbi, Khalid Al Blooshi, Talib Al Kirbi, Mahra Al Hinaai, Omar Al Fadhlia and Said Al Mazrouei all making it to the podium in their various weight classes.
Ali Al Lanjawi has also done the nation proud, picking up two golds on his jet ski to help achieve the landmark 12 medals.
And the UAE may not be done quite yet. Before the curtain falls on the Games on September 2, athletes will be competing on multiple fronts in an effort to add to the tally.
Among others, Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sergiu Toma will be going for gold in the judo men’s 81kg category. Toma’s teammates Ivan Romarenko and Victor Sartov are also competing.
The UAE equestrian team will also be hopeful of podium positions.
The hopefuls are currently fourth in the team event after Day 1 of the competition on Monday.
The team, led by Shaikha Latifa Al Maktoum, are confident of making up the difference in the finals on Tuesday.
Rider Nadia Tarium was adamant the difference between fourth and first is not huge.
“The UAE riders had suffered from the change of weather between Europe and Indonesia, but that will improve as the time passes by,” said Tarium. Tarium’s teammate Hamad Al Karbi said that the draw put them at the front of the field, which is challenging in determining the appropriate pace, whereas riders who compete in towards the end of the round have a clearer advantage over how to pace themselves. Saudi Arabia are in first place, followed by Qatar, Japan and then the UAE.