Mana Omar Al Breiki and Salem Sultan Al Dhaheri chasing gold dreams at jiu-jitsu competitions in Abu Dhabi
Emirati fighters show their mettle for medals at Jiu-Jitsu Festival in Abu Dhabi
Mana Omar Al Breiki hopes to be third time lucky in the Abu Dhabi World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship on Monday.
Having failed to reach the medal rounds in two previous attempts in white and grey belts, respectively, the 16-year-old fighter said he has done enough over a year to reach the medal round when he competes in the World Youths.
“My jiu-jitsu has reached a new level since I last competed in the World Youths,” he said after claiming a gold medal in the juvenile blue belt 66-kilogram division on Day 4 of the Jiu-Jitsu Festival at Mubadala Arena on Thursday.
“I have done pretty well this season. I got my blue belt and been called up to joining the UAE national team’s training camp in Los Angeles next month. That has motivated me even more to achieve a good result on Monday.”
Mana is one of 11 brothers practising jiu-jitsu. The eldest, Nasser, is a member of the UAE national team and won gold in the second day’s competition for the Armed Forces and Police on Tuesday.
“Nasser is the best among the 11 but interestingly he’s not the first to take up jiu-jitsu in the family,” Mana said. “He used to drop my other brothers for jiu-jitsu training and he got involved.
“We all help each other in training as well as discuss game plans before competitions, and it helps.”
Mana added a second gold to the household, taking only a little more than a minute to win by submission over Abdulrahman Al Ameri.
Abdulrahman had earlier edged out Muhsen Al Ahbabi in the semi-finals by an advantage point and that energy-sapping bout appeared to have taken its toll.
“I was left breathless after that fight and then had to come back for the final 15 minutes later,” Abdulrahman said. “I don’t want to take the sheen off Mana’s win. He’s a vastly improved fighter and he caught me off guard for a choke hold.
“Like Mana, I’m also competing in the World Youths and hopefully I cross his path again.”
Amith Passela at Jiu-Jitsu Festival
Salem Sultan Al Dhaheri will take some positives when he makes his debut in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship on Tuesday. Al Dhaheri, 18, made short work of Muaad Al Suwaidi to claim gold in the blue belt 56kg.
“I have been in jiu-jitsu for seven years and enjoyed my time with some success in the juvenile division,” Al Dhaheri said.
“I won gold in my past two appearances in the World Youths but it’s now time for me to move on and compete in the adult category for the remainder of my career.”
Al Dhaheri was successful in the President’s Cup that is worked off over five rounds, and he won four gold and a silver in the final round for the champions Al Ain Club.
Representing the national age group team, he won gold in the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation’s World Championship for Aspirants and Juniors in Greece last year.
“Those were good days,” he said of his achievements at the juvenile division. “I haven’t lost hope moving into the adult division. It’s just that I need some time and I’m confident moving forward.
A Grade 12 pupil at the Khalifa bin Zayed School in Al Ain, Al Dhaheri will join the national service after finishing school next year.
“I haven’t given much thought in what I want to do but will decide after my time at the national services,” he said.
“But for sure, I want to continue competing in jiu-jitsu.”