Abu Dhabi: Mahra Al Hanaei stole the show in the girls’ blue belt 52kg final at the Abu Dhabi World Youth Championship by beating compatriot Khuloud Al Nuaimi for gold at the Mubadala Arena on Tuesday.
An elated Al Hanaei, 16, a member of the UAE national women’s team, immediately after her triumph announced that she will be shifting her focus now on the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia, in September.
“I’m not sure of the national team plans at the moment but I’m back in training at the Al Ain Club from next week,” said Al Hanaei, who won all her bouts via submission.
“It’s still too early to talk about the Asian Games but the way I have performed in the World Youths and with more training I’m confident I’ll be at a good level come September,” said Al Hanaei, who has now won gold for the fifth time in a row in the competition.
The day also belonged to Khalifa Al Kaabi, another national team player. Al Kaabi beat Brazilian Athos Ferreira in a thriller to clinch gold in the blue belt 60kg final. With his sixth gold in succession he too has emerged as a strong medal candidate for UAE at the Asian Games.
Ferreira won an early advantage point and was trying to hold on to it, and almost succeeded until Al Kaabi unlocked himself from the Brazilian’s hold to win with a spectacular sweep by points 2-0.
“I knew Athos didn’t want to fight as he had an advantage-point,” said Al Kaabi who completed the season undefeated and remains the World No. 1 in the juvenile blue belt.
“I tried a few manoeuvres but he stayed very firm on his stomach. I was atop him and bid my time. I watched the clock tick-by and scored off the sweep leaving him no chance for a comeback.”
Helder Medeiros, Al Kaabi’s coach, speaking about his wards showing said: “He’s done exceptionally well to win all his competitions in the last 12 months and now with the World Youths behind him, he can focus on the Asian Games.
“Khalifa had a plan and he executed it to perfection. The other guy had a plan also. He held Khalifa’s leg and tried to avoid his attempts to go on top of his back, but we had trained for this move and was successful at the end.”