Youngsters fight it out for top honours before they watch the main events and learn from the world's best. Audio interviews
Emiratis offer a glimpse of jiu-jitsu's future
ABU DHABI // Faleh Ali Al Ketbi will be watching some of the world's leading exponents of jiu-jitsu to discover the levels he has to reach, should he decide to pursue a career in the sport and represent his country someday.
The Emirati teenager from the Military School of Al Ain made the perfect start to his jiu-jitsu career when he won the Under 44kg final in the children's championships, yesterday's forerunner competition ahead of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
"Winning does a lot of wonderful things," Al Ketbi said through an interpreter. "The success I have had in this competition has given me new objectives to pursue to the next level in the sport.
"I will now watch the experts fight for the world-championship titles over the next two days. I can learn a few things from these fights and measure the level I may have to reach if I want to represent my country. I don't know if I can reach that level or not but I will certainly try."
Al Ketbi knows members of the Emirati team and is keen to watch some of the world's best during the two-day championship.
"I will watch all the fighters very closely," he said. "I don't know any of them but I will definitely find out more about them and start following them and try to emulate their fighting styles."
Al Ketbi got the better of Nasser Khamis Nasser of Sultan bin Zayed School of Abu Dhabi in the final.
Arafat Boldybek, 16 and a native of Kazakhstan, travelled from Sharjah for the championship. He went home with a bronze medal in the U64kg class. "The experience was good enough for me," he said. "I know the levels I have to reach to win first prize. I train with the Top Team in Dubai and hopefully return next year for a better result."
Hamad Issa, 14, picked up the sport from Abu Dhabi's school development programme. Another first-time winner, he already has decided his sporting ambition.
"Jiu-jitsu is my sport," he said. "I play a lot of football and I still do, but I want to take jiu-jitsu more seriously. When I first joined the classes conducted at school, I did it for fun but I got a bit serious when I was told of this championship and I am happy to be the champion in my age division."
Issa, a pupil of Saad bin Moaath, bagged the U39kg final from Butti Mohammed of Al Tawafak School.
The junior championship drew more than 400 participants, both Emiratis and expatriates from around the country, competing in 27 age and weight categories for juniors, teens and juveniles.
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