Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 24 May 2019

Abu Dhabi World Pro 2019: Annie Ramirez cries tears of joy after clinching gold

The 28-year-old from the Philippines had to wait for an anxious moment until the referee’s verdict declared her the winner in the female purple belt 55-kilogram final

 Annie Ramirez has her armed raised after winning the female purple belt 55-kilogram final. Reem Mohammed / The National
 Annie Ramirez has her armed raised after winning the female purple belt 55-kilogram final. Reem Mohammed / The National

Annie Ramirez celebrated her first gold at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship with tears of joy.

The 28-year-old from the Philippines had to wait for an anxious moment, though, until the referee’s verdict declared her the winner over American Sophia Dalpra after a 4-4 deadlock in the female purple belt 55-kilogram final at the Mubadala Arena on Wednesday.

“This is my first gold in four years in the World Pro and it means a lot for me and my country,” Ramirez said.

“I got emotional because I have never won a gold on a world stage. It was a close fight and with the points tied, that was a long and anxious wait before I was declared the winner.”

Ramirez previously competed at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, popularly known as the World Pro, twice in the blue belt division and last year in the purple.

“I didn’t give up on my goal of winning gold in the World Pro," she said. "It also comes in time when the Philippines will host the SEA Games in December.

“This gold also means a lot for me as a jiu-jitsu teacher for kids with hearing impairment. I’m sure it will motivate those kids, and perhaps, see some of them competing in Abu Dhabi in the foreseeable future.”

Ramirez, 28, is a judo black belt and switched to jiu-jitsu six years ago. She has represented the Philippines in both martial arts sports.

She never won an international medal in judo but has been successful jiu-jitsu, winning golds in the Asian Beach Games in Thailand and Vietnam in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

“It took me around two years to get adjusted to jiu-jitsu but I’m glad that I made the switch," said Ramirez, who got the better of Galina Duvanova of Kazakhstan by points 5-0 and Emirati Maha Al Hanaei by submission en route to the final.

“All three fights were very hard but then you don’t expect it to be easy at this level,” she added. “Now my focus is on the next competition in Mongolia and then prepare for the SEA Games. The gold in the World Pro is a good platform to work on my next objectives.”

Elsewhere, Bashayer Al Matrooshi claimed silver and Mahra Al Hanaei missed out on a bronze, with both competing in the female adult division for the first time.

Al Matrooshi, 18, went down to Brazilian Julia Alves by points 2-0 in the final, while 17-year-old Al Hanaei was beaten by Nikoletta Zarkadi of Greece 6-0 - both in the blue belt 55kg weight.

“It was a good result for me but more important was the experience at this level,” said Al Matrooshi. “I have competed in the adult divisions at the Asian level but this is a step above, being a world championship. Obviously will take this experience forward.”

The host nation ended the day with a silver each for Nour Al Harmoodi, Khalifa Nassrati Al Blooshi and Saeed Al Mazrouei.

Al Harmoodi went down to Brazilian Larissa Santos in the female blue belt 70kg by points 2-0. Al Blooshi and Al Mazrouei both lost to Brazilians, Roiter Lima and Fabricio Junior in the 56kg and 62kg, respectively, both in the purple belt division.

The Brazilians won nine of the 15 gold medals (nine females and six males) that were up for grabs in the opening day of the World Pro.

The Swedes bagged two of the remaining golds while the Philippines, Cambodia, Italy and Portugal shared one each.

Updated: April 25, 2019 08:17 AM

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