ABU DHABI // Ahmed Suhail Al Ketbi ended his six-year wait to win his first medal in the sixth Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
The Emirati edged out Angelo Gomez of Mexico to clinch gold in the purple belt 76kg Masters on Thursday night at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
"I went with a gut feeling that I will win," he said.
"I was so sure I carried the UAE flag with me when I went in to fighting arena and thank god I did it for my first medal in this championship.
"I have won at the Arab Championship, Gulf Championship and the Abu Dhabi Cup, and this was the only medal missing. And tonight I managed to fulfil a long-time dream."
Al Ketbi said the turning point for his victory was at the halfway stage of the bout when his opponent, trying all the tactical skills, got tired.
"He pushed me very hard at the beginning with various foot-locks but I defended well," he said.
Al Ketbi took two points from a takedown and won by advantage, he said.
Al Ketbi took up to the sport six years ago when introduced by his close friend, Suwaidan al Dhaheri, who practised jiu-jitsu in the United States.
"I gave up after two tries at training but what really got me to try it again and continue was when I watched Suwaidan in action in one of the competitions," he said.
Jiu-jitsu is a growing sport in the country with more than 25,000 youngsters practising it around the country at training centres in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah.
"The sport has the backing of the state and I feel it will soon become the second-most popular sport in the UAE after football," he said.
"We already have some top-level competitors and perhaps, in another five to 10 years, we will have some world champions in black belt.
"The Abu Dhabi event is now established as the richest and most sought after by the best fighters around the world. So for me, it is a win-win situation for the UAE."
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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