'A dream come true': UAE's Faisal Al Ketbi wins jiu-jitsu gold at 2018 Asian Games
JAKARTA, INDONESIA // Faisal Al Ketbi said winning an Asian Games gold medal was a "dream come true" as the UAE's top jiu-jitsu fighter led another medal rush for the UAE in Jakarta on Saturday.
The Emirati emerged victorious in the men’s 94-kilogram final over Jordan's Sami Zaid at the Jakarta Convention Centre.
It was one of three medals won by the men's team on Saturday, with Omar Al Fadhli and Saeed Al Mazroui winning silver and bronze in the men's 62kg division respectively.
“I started as a wrestler when I was 11 and always wanted to compete at the Asian Games," Al Ketbi said. "Jiu-jitsu provided me that opportunity, and then to come here and win a gold was really a dream come true."
Al Ketbi drew a first-round bye before beating Bahrain's Mohammed Ghareeb 3-0 and Mohammed Ariq Noor by submission to reach the semi-final.
He got the better of South Korea's Hwang Miyeng-se 2-1 by advantage points before the final showdown with Zaid, winning it on referee’s decision after a 1-1 deadlock.
A delighted Al Ketbi, the country's most decorated jiu-jitsu practitioner, was quick to acknowledge the role others played in helping him secure his gold medal.
“I owe this to many people: the country’s Rulers, my bosses and all those who have been behind me, particularly my wife. She has been a tower of strength for me, taking care of all the chores and looking after every aspect of my family life," he said.
More from Amith Passela at the Asian Games:
Omar Al Fadhli: Asiad gold 'will be the high point of my career'
Faisal Al Ketbi: Hoping hard work in LA will pay off at Asiad
Al Ketbi, 30, already held legendary status in UAE martial arts. He was the first Emirati to achieve a black belt in jiu-jitsu and has held the country's No 1 ranking for more than a decade.
Having realised his childhood dream of winning an Asian Games gold medal what’s next for Al Ketbi?
“I would like compete at the Asian Games again,” he said. “It won’t be easy with so many youngsters coming up but I will not be leaving my chair easily.
“Whoever will come in my place and represent UAE will definitely be worth it. If I can’t make it again, I will be one of the guys to come and support the one to take my place.”
Al Fadhli had the chance to follow Al Ketbi on to the top spot of the podium but came up just short in the 62kg final.
The teenager cleared the first hurdle over Bahrain's Abdulla Munfaredi 4-2. He then overcame Shoymard Abdulnazarov of Tajikistan 2-0 and Alymgeldi Abdizhamil Uulu of Kyrgyzstan 2-0.
That set up a final against Darkhan Nortayev. The Kazakh fighter was awarded the match 2-1, but not before Al Fadhli's camp asked for a video referral of a late advantage point awarded to Nortayev. After the review, officials upheld their original decision.
Al Fadhli, however, wasn’t too disappointed at losing out on a gold medal.
“My goal was to reach the medal round and anything beyond was like a bonus,” he said.
“I can take this experience forward. Most of my opponents whom I face were over 20. I have age on my side and a long journey ahead of me, so I’m happy with the result,” added the 18-year-old Emirati.
In the women's draw, the UAE's Bashayer Al Matrooshi and Hessa Al Shamsi both failed to reach the medal rounds in the 62kg weight.
Al Matrooshi lost to Violetta Krovyakova of Turkmenistan 7-0 in the quarter-finals and got beat by the Brazilian born Julia Simone of Indonesia 2-0 in the repechage.
Al Shamsi made a similar exit after going down to Udval Tsoghkhuu of Mongolia in the last eight and was beaten to submission by Jordanian Yara Kakish in the repechage.
Saturday's medals followed a successful medal haul on Friday for the UAE where Emiratis won two golds and three silvers in the space of an hour in jiu-jitsu and jet-ski competitions.
So far the UAE have three gold medals, four silver and one bronze.
Sung Ki-ra (KOR) bt Tian Lien (SGP)
Yara Kakish (JOR) bt Violetta Krovyyakova (TKM)
Udval Tsogkhuu (MNG) bt Julia Simone (IRA)
Darkhan Nortayev (KAZ) bt Omar Al Fadhli (UAE)
Saeed Al Mazroui (UAE) bt Daniel Hilal (LEB)
Freeh Al Harahsheh (JOR) bt Mirali Agayev (TKM)
Faisal Al Ketbi (UAE) bt Sami Zaid (JOR)
Hwang Miyeng-se (KOR) Ramazan Kussainov (KAZ)
Rizat Makhshev (KAZ) bt Ilkhom Juraev (UZB)