'I couldn't have thought of a better moment' at jiu-jitsu tournament
Faisal Al Ketbi could not have had better inspiration for his double gold medal-winning performance.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, was matside, watching every move of the fight, and Renzo Gracie, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend, was on hand to give him some pre-fight coaching and guidance.
With two such influential people in his corner, the 24-year-old Emirati put on an outstanding display to repeat his 2010 double-gold medal winning effort in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
He won 100kg weight final from Celso Junior of Brazil and the absolute class from Hannu Karjalainen of Finland on Saturday night at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Al Ketbi, who was forced to sit out of last year's championship because of an injury, scored an early two points from a "take down" and earned another two "advantage" points towards the end of the six-minute fight to win the first of his two medals in the purple belt.
He was embraced by Sheikh Mohammed, who watched every move, as Al Ketbi ran towards him after the hooter.
"I couldn't have thought of a better moment," Al Ketbi said. "To win and then be embraced by Sheikh Mohammed is a moment that I will remember as long as I live. It was really great feeling to win in front of him.
"We are very well supported in the sport by Sheikh Mohammed and his brothers Sheikh Tahnoon [bin Zayed] and Sheikh Hazza [bin Zayed]. What more can we reward them for their unstinting support than winning!
"The whole team prepared well for this championship. We trained under Renzo Gracie's academy in New York in February and March, and Renzo travelled all the way to watch us in action, which was great of him. I know him for 13 years. He is my teacher and friend."
Earlier, the Emirati women had created a piece of history by winning the gold and silver, with Shamsa Hassan getting the better of teammate Najla Mohammed, in an all-UAE final in the white belt 54kg category.
It fulfilled a promise made last year by Caroline De Lazzer, the UAE national women's team coach.
"Last year, we made a piece of history when we had Emirati women participate in an open jiu-jitsu championship and this year we created a piece of history when we finished in the medals," said the Brazilian former world champion.
"Shamsa weighs only 50kg and that being the lowest weight division; she had to fight in the same category as Najla.
"The girls have done wonderfully well. They have been working very hard for this moment and now we take one-week break and prepare for next year.
"We had five entries and after the success they have had I am sure we will have more at the next championship."
Kamilla Issad, an Algerian who trains with the UAE women's team under De Lazzer, also won gold, defeating Helen Faria of Brazil in the blue belt 54kg.
The UAE finished the championship with their best medal haul, winning four golds, one silver and 10 bronze.
Ahmed Mousa, a late starter and virtual newcomer to the sport, won the gold in the white belt 100kg for the UAE's fourth gold.
The 31-year-old soldier in the UAE Army has been in the sport for only five months but this was his second gold medal after his success at the Asian Championship in Abu Dhabi.
"After winning a second gold, I don't know where I am headed to in jiu-jitsu," Mousa said. "I am new to the sport and not very young to start a career in jiu-jitsu. I am indeed happy with the achievement but I don't know what's around the corner for me. So fingers crossed."
Men – Black belt
Open class: Rodolfo Vieira (Bra)
100kg and over: Marcus Almeida (Bra)
100kg and under: Alexandre Ribiero (Bra)
94kg: Rodolfo Vieira (Bra)
88kg: Andre Galvao (Bra)
82kg: Claudio Calasans (Bra)
76kg: Roberto Santosi (Bra)
70kg: Samuel Canquerino (Bra)
64kg: Fernando Vieira (Bra)
Men – Purple belt
Open: Faisal Al Ketbi (UAE)
100kg and over: Camil Moldoveana (Rom)
100kg and under: Faisal Al Ketbi (UAE)
94kg: Hannu Karjalainen (Fin)
88kg: Gustavo dos Santos (Bra)
82kg: Keenan Cornelius (USA)
76kg: Pedro Paulo Agrizzi (Bra)
70kg: Shane Suzuki (Jap)
64kg: Paulo Miyao (Bra)
Men - Blue belt
100kg and over: Abdelhak Alaoui (Mar)
100kg and under: Julio Cezar de Lima (Bra)
94kg: Michael Torcasio (NZ)
88kg: Risto Vesanto (Fin)
82kg: Walter Faustino (Ang)
76kg: Anselmo Gomes (Bra)
70kg: Rudson Matues (Bra)
64kg: Jordan Baddi (Swe)
Men – White belt
100kg and over: Dennys Ricardo (Bra)
100kg and under: Ahmed Mousa (UAE)
94kg: Otoo Kuikka (Fin)
88kg: Ion Pascu (Rom)
82kg: Cheol An (Kor)
76kg: Shamil Magome (Rus)
70kg: Zurab Karimgadzhiev (Rus)
64kg: Abdulhadi Aladwani (Kuw)
Womens – Black belt
Open: Gabrielle Garcia (Bra)
72kg and over: Gabrielle Garcia (Bra)
72kg and under: Fernanda Mazzelli (Bra)
66kg: Luanna Alzuguir (Bra)
60kg: Michelle Nicolini (Bra)
54kg: Nyja Easton (USA)
Women – Blue belts
Open: Elena Zenkevich (Rus)
72kg and over: Iris Batista (Bra)
72kg and under: Mille Pedersen (Den)
66kg: Katrien Verheeke (Bel)
60kg: Jaqueline Amorim (Bra)
54kg: Kamella Issad (Alg)
Women – White belt
Open: Rana Qubbaj (Jor)
72kg: Rana Qubbaj (Jor)
66kg: Ruba Alsayegh (Jor)
60kg: Eun Ji Kim (Kor)
54kg: Shamsa Hassan (UAE)
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Updated: April 14, 2012 04:00 AM