Three UAE athletes have fought their way through to today's finals in the Junior Arab Taekwondo Championship in Fujairah.
Hajir Naseeb and Ohud Rabei advanced in the girls' 68kg and 63kg weight classes respectively and Abdullah Al Numan qualified in the boys' 73kg class.
More 100 athletes from 14 countries entered the tournament, which is being held for the first time. National weight division champions from competing countries have been taking part.
The UAE started the championship with a team of 10 boys and four girls, and organisers hope the event will create more interest in the sport in the country.
"We would like to raise the awareness of the sport locally and possibly host the world championships in the UAE," Eid Fairooz Al Mesmary, the director of the tournament, said. "We have less than 12 clubs in the country while other countries in the region, like Jordan, have more than 70 clubs and have lively competitions".
Al Mesmary also stressed the importance of Olympic self defence sports, as opposed to the more popular Mixed Martial Arts and Ultimate Fighting competitions.
"Taekwondo is the leading self defence sports globally. However, people are being drawn to MMA sports, I consider this ignorance," he said. "You should not believe what you see on television because this is all just business and marketing, sports like amateur boxing, Roman wrestling and taekwondo are Olympic sports, real sports that are competitive and beneficial to the athlete".
The finals will be held today at the Ministry of Education's Mirbih Sports Gymnasium in Fujairah from 9am until 10.30pm.