Abu Dhabi: The UAE national team took their Jiu-Jitsu World Championship medal haul to 63 to pull away from the rest of the aspirants and almost seal the title for a third consecutive year.
As the competitions for Under-21 division were held at Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City on Monday, the falcons finished their campaign on the tenth day of the championship with a grand 11 gold, 3 silver, and 3 bronze.
Omar Alsuwaidi and Khaled Alshehhi bagged two gold medals for the hosts in the Under-21 class in addition to their medals in the Adult category last week, propelling the team to the top spot on the overall list. The UAE also earned the awards for best Under-21 team and best National Federation with the most gold medals won in a single day.
As the event comes to a close on Tuesday, the Mubadala Investment Company-sponsored team is poised to defend their championship crown from the previous year with 26 gold, 17 silver, and 20 bronze in its collection.
Balqees Abdulla (-48 kg) gifted a brilliant start for the team on the tenth day of the event, grabbing gold in a heated battle.
She was then joined by Zayed Salem (-94 kg), Hazaea Farhan (+94kg), Shamma Alkalbani (-63kg), Fakhera Almansoori (+70 kg), Asma Alhosani (-52kg), Hamdah Al Shkeili (-45 kg), Omar Alsuwaidi (-56 kg), Khaled Alshehhi (-62 kg), Mahdi Alawlaqi (-77 kg), and Saeed Alkubaisi (-85kg), on the podium with gold medals, showing the team's complete dominance on the mats.
Mayed Alshehhi (-56kg), Shamsa Al Ameri (-52 kg) and Sara Alhammadi (-45kg) bagged silver for the team while Saud Alhosani (-62 kg), Hamed Alhanaee (-94 kg), and Alia Aldhanhani (-57 kg) made the hosts look strong with bronze medals.
The national team's superb performance on Monday was praised by Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, Secretary General of the UAE Jim-Jitsu Federation: "The national jiu-jitsu team champions continue to post great results and add to the UAE's collection of medals, moving us one step closer to retaining the world title for the third consecutive year," he said.
"Our heroes performed admirably today, living up to expectations. The results reflect the technical staff's tireless efforts in training them. These athletes are the foundation of the future generation and can carry on The UAE's success march in the years to come in the Jiu-Jitsu global arena."
Khaled Al-Shehhi (62 kg), who secured double gold for the national team said: "I am very happy to achieve the gold medal in the world championship, after winning a number of difficult fights, especially the last. The encouragement of the fans and the guidance of coach Ramon Lemos formed an strong motivation for me to fight with determination and dominance over the opponent."
Elsewhere, Sarah Al Hammadi, who competed in the 45 kg category final against her compatriot Hamda Al Shukaili, said: "I cannot express my joy at this achievement and ascending to the podium with the country's flag. I congratulate Hamda for the gold and I am super proud of her brilliant performance today."
Meanwhile, champion Omar Al-Suwaidi, who qualified for the final of the 56-kg weight class against his teammate Mayed Alshehhi and achieved the gold, said: "It is a proud occasion that calls for celebration. Two Emiratis reaching the World Championship final is no small feat."
As the event nears its completion, the Tajikistan Jiu-Jitsu Federation's president, Alijon Davlatov, is extremely happy about their participation in the world championship. "I'm happy we came to Abu Dhabi for the World Championship. We still have a long way to go in terms of medals, but it's better. We have one bronze medal, but there are more competitions to go to. We can certainly win a couple more, I'm confident," he said.
"I can say with confidence that the team's overall performance was excellent. They are performing far better than they did in the previous events, and they will undoubtedly take home more medals at the world championship. Being in Abu Dhabi and participating in the activities here is always exciting. We adore it and are deeply touched by their hospitality and care."
Colombian Madeleine Choconta was in the stands rooting for her nation's athletes. "I really like it here, the happy environment, the noisy fans, everything is amazing. I'm thrilled. The people here are quite sociable, and I have made many friends here," she said.
"I'm here to support the Colombian athletes since they have shown excellent technical ability and we are always proud of them. So far, they have won ten medals, including four gold, four silver, and two bronze. Its' simply wonderful."