FUJAIRAH // Abdullah Al Shamsi has become the new golden boy of taekwondo in the UAE.
The young fighter battled his way to the top of the podium at the Junior Arab Taekwondo Championships in Fujairah this week, beating Kuwait's Ali Al Khaldi in the 78kg weight class to claim the country's only gold medal of the tournament.
But he received solid support from the other nine boys and four girls from the UAE as the team finished with a total of six medals. This meant that the boys finished second in the team standings and the girls third.
"I am very proud of our boys and girls. They came to this tournament with very limited preparations but now are ranked second and third for the boys and girls respectively in the Arab world," said Eid Fairooz Al Mesmary, the tournament director.
Mohammed Jamal won a silver medal in the 59kg weight class in which he lost to Jordan's Mohammed Asfoor in the final, while Mohammed Abdel Qader took the bronze medal in his division after losing to the eventual gold medal winner Zaid Abuzaid, also from Jordan.
In the girls' competition Sheikha Eissa and Aliya Al Robayie both won silver, in the 59kg and 68kg weight classes respectively, while Aisha Al Mesmary won bronze in the 42kg category. "All the athletes did exceptionally well in this tournament," Al Mesmary said.
Jordan are ranked No 1 in the Arab world and, according to Al Mesmary, have three members who have already qualified to the London 2012 Olympics.
However, he said that the UAE team needed more serious preparations. "The pre-tournament training camp was short, in taekwondo special preparations and camps are needed for the fighters to be able to compete strongly," he said.