- Czech teenager wins gold and is elevated to blue belt
- Nia and Zuri Blackman both win gold in their classes
- Mathail Al Senani defeats fellow Emirati Fakhera Al Mansooori
Hannah Mrazkova enjoys memorable Abu Dhabi World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship debut
Hannah Mrazkova will forever remember her first appearance at the Abu Dhabi World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
The Czech teenager won gold in the white belt 57-kilogram weight and, while standing on the podium after the presentation, she was given a surprise by her coach, Milos Bosuk, who elevated her to blue belt.
“I have been in jiu-jitsu for five years and my coach said I deserved it after the successful debut in a world competition,” an emotional Mrazkova said.
“This is the first time for me competing in a world event. I took part in the European Juniors in Germany last year but coming here and winning a gold is my biggest success since I took to jiu-jitsu.”
Mrazkova practiced judo from the age of five, and at the age of 10 was spotted by Bosuk, who saw in her potential in jiu-jitsu.
“Jiu-jitsu is just beginning to be popular in the country and success like Hannah has had today will encourage more to join the martial art sports,” said the Czech coach, who himself made a transition from judo to jiu-jitsu six years ago.
Only two girls travelled from the Czech Republic, with the other – Eliska Safarova – taking bronze in the grey belt 52kg division.
Mrazkova had to come through four fights to win gold and she hopes her success will encourage more Czech girls to join the sport.
“We have around 100 girls practicing jiu-jitsu at the club and I’m sure many will join me in this competition next year,” she said.
While the main finals were rescheduled for Tuesday’s official opening ceremony of the 10th Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, there were many success stories on Sunday.
Nia and Zuri Blackman both celebrated winning gold and they will look to carry their success over to Las Vegas for the American Nationals in June and the American Kids International in August.
Nia, 13, won gold in the orange belt 63kg and Zuri, 10, bagged a gold in the yellow belt 40kg and silver in 52kg, which she was invited to enter following a last minute withdrawal.
“It’s the second visit for me after winning a silver in the yellow belt 63kg but first time for my younger sister,” said Nia, who got the referee’s verdict for an attempted triangle choke after a scoreless deadlock against Sarah Fanizza.
“I won the first two fights by submission but Sarah was a more experienced and tougher opponent. I went for triangle choke attempt and that move earned me the gold.”
Fanizza, 14, was visiting Abu Dhabi for the third time. She won a silver at the same event 12 months ago and bronze in the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation’s World Championship for Aspirants and Juniors last month.
“It was a close fight in the final and could have gone either way,” said the Belgian, who plans to return next year. “I enjoyed the competitions in Abu Dhabi all three times I visited, and the fact that I have returned with a medal in each of the three occasions. Now it’s back to base train harder and looking forward for next year in Abu Dhabi.”
Mathail Al Senani got the better of her Emirati compatriot Fakhera Al Mansooori 15-0 in the blue belt 70kg final. The 16-year-old stretched her head-to-head record over her opponent to 7-0 while winning her third medal, second gold, in three years in the Abu Dhabi World Youths.
Mahra Al Hanaei, 16, stayed on course for another gold after reaching the blue belt 62kg final. She won her three fights, all by submission, and will fight for the gold on Tuesday.
A member of the UAE women’s national team, Al Hanaei won a gold three days earlier in the Abu Dhabi Festival exclusively for Emirati girls.