UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, the governing body for the sport in the UAE, recently organised an interactive video conference with Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who is on the longest space mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

During the session on Wednesday, Al Neyadi shared his remarkable experience of practising jiu-jitsu in space and how the sport has benefited him during his journey. Earlier in May, Al Neyadi made history by becoming the first astronaut to practice jiu-jitsu at the ISS.

The exclusive event was inaugurated by Brigadier General Mohammed bin Dalmouj Al Dhaheri, board member of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation. Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, secretary-general of the UAE, along with several strategic partners of the UAEJJF, were also present at the event.

During the occasion, Al Neyadi engaged in a captivating conversation with the UAE National Team. He congratulated the team for winning the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship title for the fourth consecutive year. The championship took place in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, last week, where the team performed outstandingly, securing a total of 14 impressive medals: eight gold, four silver, and two bronze.

Testament of true mettle

Al Neyadi emphasised that these medals are a testament to the true mettle of the heroes who take immense pride and have a strong sense of belonging to their beloved country and its leadership. He commended their relentless efforts in upholding the nation’s flag with honour and excellence on every international stage.

Al Dhaheri said: “With his remarkable achievements, Sultan has exemplified the values of dedication and perseverance, and he proudly raised the UAE flag high among the stars.

“Sultan’s journey and his dedication to practicing Jiu-Jitsu in space reflect the indomitable spirit of the UAE culture and embody the relentless pursuit of excellence, the courage to venture into uncharted territories, and the belief that no challenge is insurmountable.”

Al Dhaheri added: “Today, we have this unique opportunity to engage with Sultan, not just as an astronaut but as a fellow Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast. Let us embrace this moment to learn from his experiences, draw inspiration from his journey, and strive together to devote our commitment to contributing to the consolidation of our country’s global leadership in various fields.”

Responding to questions from the attendees, Al Neyadi shared his insights on how his jiu-jitsu experience has helped during his mission. “Practising jiu-jitsu in the unique environment of space has been an extraordinary experience,” he said, live from the International Space Station.

“I would like to express my gratitude to our wise leadership, which firmly believes in the value of investing in the development of our people. They understand that the true wealth of our homeland lies in the growth and empowerment of its citizens. This serves as the cornerstone of our journey towards achieving an advanced position among nations.”

Great example

Al Shamsi praised the achievements of Al Neyadi, stressing that he represents a great example for the sons and daughters of the country and a source of inspiration for talents whose dreams and aspirations know no limits. He noted his pride and honour in being surrounded by the stars of the national team – world Jiu-Jitsu champions – and in communicating with a national hero who has embraced space and the dreams of all Emiratis.

Shamma Al Kalbani, the star of the national jiu-jitsu team and the 63kg world champion, said she was very happy to speak with Al Neyadi and interact with him in an open dialogue that brought joy to her and all her teammates. She added that they can all learn from his determination, courage, and sacrifice.

“I wanted to appreciate the efforts of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation in organising and hosting such initiatives,” she said. “This video call came at the right time to motivate and encourage us to provide our best in the upcoming championships.”