ABU DHABI // Ana Carolina Vieira is following in the footsteps of her older brother Rudolfo, the reigning world, Pan-American, European Open and Abu Dhabi World Professional jiu-jitsu champion.
Having made a successful entry into the international arena, the 19 year old's ultimate aim is to become the women's black belt world champion.
Vieira was winner in her 63kg blue-belt weight category and bronze medallist in the World Championship in Los Angeles last year.
The Brazilian made a winning debut in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, winning her weight division during the second day of the sixth World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
"I am thrilled winning at Abu Dhabi in my first appearance and now I am aiming to complete the double by participating in the open category," Vieira said after her triumph.
The main black-belt category and the finals of the championship for men and women, with a purse of Dh1.45 million, has drawn over 750 competitors will be decided today and tomorrow.
Vieira won her ticket to Abu Dhabi by winning both her weight and open divisions in the qualifying trials in Gramado, Brazil, on March 2.
"I couldn't have wished for a better result in my first time at Abu Dhabi," she said.
"I have heard a lot about the country from my brother and friends, and it really is a very nice place. The prize money here is the highest in the world and naturally it draws the best fighters from around the world."
Abu Dhabi will be part of her preparation for the Brazilian National Championship later this month and the World Championship in Los Angeles in June, she said.
Vieira left high school last year and is now pursuing a career in jiu-jitsu.
"It wasn't really hard for me to pick up the sport, because I have been watching my brother train and compete for quite a long time," she said.
"I am really fortunate to have a brother who is a world champion. He was instrumental in getting me in to the sport.
"First, it was to lose weight, as I was on the heavier side. I got quite serious when I actually got started.
"My brother has been behind me to teach me every trick of the game yet it has been the long hours of training that got me to a good level."
She has only trained seriously for two years and works out three times daily five days a week, and when preparing for a competition, it can be six days a week.
"I wish I can carry this momentum forward to the next two competitions," she said.
"My immediate next target is the open class in Abu Dhabi. It definitely is going to be tough, but I am prepared for it."
Meanwhile, Luanna Alzuguir, the three-time Abu Dhabi champion, is aiming to extend her winning streak.
She is back after winning the European Championship in both her weight and open divisions at Lisbon in January.
"I feel great at the moment," the Brazilian said.
"I have been training well and arrived in Abu Dhabi three weeks ago to have some private classes and some preparation for myself.
"The competition is not going to be any easier with the bar raised every passing year.
"The next three big competitions for me after the European Open are the Abu Dhabi, Brazilian National Championship and the World Championship in Los Angeles."
Alzuguir was the winner of the 63kg in Abu Dhabi in 2010 and 2011, and the 66kg last year. She won the World Championship in Los Angeles four times in a row from 2009.
"Hopefully I can retain the two titles again," said the 28 year old who has won every major title around the world.
"It has been a wonderful journey for me and I am still enjoying since I came to jiu-jitsu when I was nine. The sport is my livelihood, competing and coaching. I feel I am still on top of my game."
What World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship
When until Saturday
Where Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre
Who Adults, Friday and Saturday
Time 9am-7pm, entry is free. For more information, click here.
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