The UAE Under-16 and Under-18 national Jiu-Jitsu teams returned home to a heroes’ welcome following an extraordinary performance at the World Youth Cup and the Balkan Youth Championships held in the Romanian capital Bucharest.
The young Jiu-Jitsu Falcons who raised the UAE flag high at the prestigious events were greeted at Dubai airport by UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) Board members, including His Excellency Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, Vice Chairman of the UAEJJF; Mr. Youssef Al Batran, UAEJJF Board Member; Mr. Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, CEO of the UAEJJF, Mr. Mohamed Hussain Al Marzooqi, Director of Marketing and Finance, UAEJJF; and Mr. Mubarak Al Menhali, Technical Director at the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation.
The athletes’ families were also on-hand to welcome home their young jiu-jitsu heroes who bagged 13 medals at the Balkan U18 Open Championship, in Bucharest, compromising seven golds, four silvers and two bronzes - an achievement that put the UAE at the top of the championship standings.
Zayed Salem Ali, Saeed Al Suwaidi, Abdul Rahman Haidarah, Khalid Al Shehhi, Khalid Al Awlaki, Hazza Al Qubaisi and Salem Al Dhaheri claimed impressive gold medals, while Saeed Al Suwaidi, Saeed Al Shehhi, Sultan Al Hosani and Hamad Al Qubaisi clinched silver medals. Nayef Al Mansouri and Jassim Al Zaabi added to the impressive medal haul with bronze medals.
The Under-16 team meanwhile, impressed at the World Youth Cup, with five gold, three silver and one bronze in a nine-medal haul.
The gold medals were captured by Mohammed Al Shehhi in the 38kg category; Mohammed Al Ketbi (46kg); Rashid Al Shehhi (50kg); Faraj Al Awlaqi (60kg) and Saif Jassim Al Mansouri with weight division of 70 kg. Suhail Ismail (42kg), Mohammed Al-Kaabi (46kg), and Saud Al Hosani (60 kg) took silver, with Hamad Al Shehhi claiming a bronze.
The UAE athletes gave an exceptional performance making everybody in the country proud. They have shown great enthusiasm and dedication to the sport and to showcasing the UAE on a global stage,” said His Excellency Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, Vice Chairman of the UAEJJF.
"The young athletes have responded to any challenges they faced. Furthermore, the results demonstrate the UAEJJF’s efforts to take the sport to a new level are paying off and we are moving in the right direction. The UAE falcons are making their mark on jiu-jitsu championships across the world, showing the sport has a bright future.
Commenting on the achievement, national team coach Ramon Lemos said: “The success of the UAE team fills us with pride and optimism for the future. Our U-16 and U-18s are considered to be the best in Asia and I expect them to be the world champions in a few years. They have shown great persistence and enthusiasm, and a hunger for victory. These are truly the future of Jiu-Jitsu in the UAE.”
Commenting on his triumph, Mohamed Said Al Shehhi, gold medalist in the 38kg division at the World Youth Cup, said: “The preparation for this championship could not have been better and this allowed us to achieve the best possible results. We thank the UAEJJF efforts and I will be looking to contain my development with more medals at the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Abu Dhabi this November.
Salem Al Dhaheri, gold medalist and a member of the medal table-topping UAE Falcons at the Balkan U18 Open Championship, said: “The tournament was very exhausting, but with the proper preparation and the continuous support of the UAEJJF we had the incentive to go out there and win. We eagerly await the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Abu Dhabi to continue with this approach as we strive for more medal success.”