Jiu jitsu - Al Suwaidi
Mohammed Ali Al Suwaidi was adjudged Player of the Tournament in Asian jiu jitsu championship earlier this week. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Dubai: The UAE national team retained their continental title after a dramatic final day at the Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championship in Bahrain on Tuesday.

Leading the medal table heading into Tuesday’s final day, the UAE maintained position when the two-day event closed, finishing with eight gold medals from a potential 14. Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, vice-chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, received the shield for best team in front of a jubilant Emirati delegation. Jordan finished second with two golds, as many silver and a bronze medal while Vietnam took third with two golds and a bronze medal.

More than 400 athletes from 24 nations grappled for gold as the UAE added six more medals to their opening day tally to finish with 16 and set a record by becoming the first country in the championship history to take home more than 50 percent of gold medals on offer.

It was another strong showing for the UAE’s impressive squad, securing a further three gold medals in the finals through Khaled Al Shehhi (62kg), Shama Al Kalbani (63kg) and Mohamed Al Amri (77kg). Hamda Alshkeili (45kg) claimed silver while Maitha Shreim (52kg) and Omar Al Fadhli (62kg) both took bronze.

Mohammed Ali Al Suwaidi was awarded Player of the Tournament at the sixth annual Asian Championship. The Emirati had turned in a remarkable performance in the men’s under-69kg weight division to add to his country’s list of accomplishments.

Abdel Moneim Al Hashemi, chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, president of the Asian Jiu-Jitsu Union, and senior vice-president of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation congratulated the contingent. “The athletes did a fantastic job” he said. “This incredible achievement was made possible through extensive preparations. The Asian Games will be held in China in September and represent one of the most difficult challenges for these athletes this season. Our golden team must now do everything to maintain their massive lead and solidly defend the title they won at the last Games in Jakarta.”

I prepared well for the tournament and followed coach Polyana Lago’s directions. I am extremely happy with the accomplishment, but the work does not stop here

- Shama Al Kalbani, Emirati women’s champion

Shama Al Kalbani, the Emirati women’s champion, was the talk of the championship on the second day as she fought valiantly to win all her bouts in less than a minute. “I prepared well for the tournament and followed coach Polyana Lago’s directions,” she said, adding she already has one eye on the Asian Games. “I am extremely happy with the accomplishment, but the work does not stop here.”

Khaled Al Shehhi said: “I am absolutely delighted to win the gold. I see this as a springboard for future championships this year and having now tasted this success will go to even greater lengths to prepare for the next tournaments, especially the Asian Games.”

Panagiotis Theodoropoulos, president of the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation (JJIF), Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, secretary general of the UAE and Asian Federations, Joachim Thumbart, director general of the JJIF, and Mohammed Reda, president of the Bahraini Federation, were among those who attended the awards ceremony on Tuesday night.