Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 June 2020

Hamad Nawad ready to hit the mat and the books after winning return at Grand Slam Abu Dhabi

Emirati, 19, finished on top of the podium in his first jiu-jitsu outing in 18 months

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Hamad Nawad wins first place for the purple belt category at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam championship in Jiu-Jitsu, in the Mubadala Arena. Khushnum Bhandari for The National
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Hamad Nawad wins first place for the purple belt category at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam championship in Jiu-Jitsu, in the Mubadala Arena. Khushnum Bhandari for The National

Hamad Nawad made a winning return to competitive jiu-jitsu after winning gold in the 56-kilogram division purple belt on the final day of the Grand Slam Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

The Emirati, 19, won all his three fights by submission. Even more impressive is that he achieved it having taken 18 months off to complete his high school studies, and only returned to full-time training just over three weeks ago.

Nawad, a gold medalist at the 2018 Asian Games, says now he has a taste for gold again he is hungry for more.

“To win all my fights by submissions after just three weeks of work on my come-back trail is a very satisfying result,” Nawad said after wins over two Emirati opponents and one from Saudi Arabia.

“From now on, it’s back to the days when I trained for three years to make it to the UAE’s Asian Games team. I believe 2020 will be my year. I want win every competition that I participate.”

Nawad achieved an average of 86.6 per cent in his high school exams to earn a four-year scholarship on an undergraduate course in Information Technology on Security and Forensics at the High Colleges of Technology (HCT).

But having taken time out to brush up on the books, Nawad says he is ready to combine higher education as well as competing at jiu-jitsu tournaments.

“I want to compete in all domestic competitions but the next big tournaments coming are the Grand Slam London and an Asian championship in Saudi Arabia. They are both in March, so I’ll go with what our federation decides,” he said.

Nawad’s UAE teammate Omar Al Fadhli had to work hard to secure his gold medal in the 62kg purple belt.

He won a sensational semi-final against Brazilian Giovanny do Nascimento with a last-gasp effort to score four points from a back-mount.

That scoring move was reviewed by officials before Al Fadhli was awarded the four points and the match to win 8-4.

“If I had 30 seconds more from that move, I would have won by submission,” Al Fadhli said.

The Emirati was declared the winner of the final Abdulmalik Al Murdhi of Saudi Arabia was disqualified for foul play.

Al Murdhi lifted Al Fadhli and deliberately dashed him on the mat when the latter had taken a 1-0 lead.

“My biggest challenge in this competition was the new rules and the scoring system that turns advantages and penalties into points,” Al Fadhli said.

“I didn’t have much time to familiarise with the new rules. My combat style is to go for submissions but I’ll have to sort this out with the technical staff before the next competition.”

Al Fadhli, 19, won a medal in every major competition he participated in last year and has set his sights on more success in 2020.

“For me, 2019 has been the best so far in terms of the medals I won,” he added. “It was also the toughest year as I had seriously hurt both my elbows and had some personal issues to deal with.”

Faisal Al Ketbi bowed out in the second round at the Mubadala Arena.

The Emirati was competing in the heavier 94kg weight class and went down to Brazilian Jackson Sousa 4-1 on points after winning the first round against another Brazilian, Luan Lima 3-0.

In the black belt division, the Brazilian women swept all five golds, including double gold for the world champion Gabrieli Pessanha, who won the inaugural Queen of Mats on Day 2.

The Brazilian men bagged five of the seven golds while Norwegian Tommy Langaker (77kg) and Adam Wardzinski (94kg) of Poland were successful in their respective weight categories.

Updated: January 19, 2020 12:55 PM

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