Khalfan Belhoul 'a hero' for fighting though the pain to guarantee UAE an Asian Games medal, says coach
The Emirati suffered a fractured ankle in his semi-final win over Murtazali Murtazaliev and was unable to contest the men's 85kg jiu-jitsu final as a result
The national jiu-jitsu team coach Ramon Lemos proclaimed Khalfan Belhoul "a hero for us" after the Emirati fighter battled through his semi-final with a fractured ankle to claim victory and thus guarantee the UAE a medal.
As a result of the injury, Belhoul was in no physical shape to contest the 85-kilogram final against Haider Al Rasheed, the Jordanian claiming the gold medal as a result of a walkover.
“He was a hero for us. Had he not won the semi-final, we wouldn’t have won a medal because we wouldn’t have been able to fight for the third place,” Lemos said.
Belhoul suffered the injury midway through his semi-final against Murtazali Murtazaliev of Kyrgyzstan at the Jakarta Convention Centre on Sunday but battled through the pain to hold on to his two-point lead.
“He resisted the pain, fought with an injury after a foot-lock. Sometimes this happens," Lemos said.
“Khalfan resisted the pain and controlled that fight. He wanted to put his country in the final.
“He told me ‘Ramon, if I lost that fight I wouldn’t have won a medal for my country but now I know we have a silver at least.’ For me, that silver is like a gold.”
The Emirati was understandably disappointed on missing out on a third gold medal for the UAE in Indonesia, but said he was advised to pull out of the final after consulting medical specialists.
“I still tried to fight the final but the coach and the medical team at the venue advised me not to,” Belhoul said.
“It’s disappointing but what can I do? It was God’s decision that I couldn’t take part in the final.”
Belhoul was handed a bye in the first round and took just 22 seconds to submit Ahmed Saud of Saudi Arabia to clinch a quarter-final berth.
He eased past Abdughafur Abdulloev of Tajikistan 11-0 before his semi-final against Murtazaliev.
More from Amith Passela at the Asian Games:
'A dream come true': UAE's Faisal Al Ketbi wins jiu-jitsu gold at 2018 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
Earlier, Mohammed Al Qubaisi won a bronze medal with victory over Erkhbayar Batkhuyag of Mongolia 3-2 on advantage in the 77kg division for the UAE. It means Emiratis top the jiu-jitsu medals table at the Asian Games with two gold, five silver and two bronze medals.
Lemos said the success of the UAE's jiu-jitsu athletes in Jakarta - the national team won nine medals in total - was down to preparation.
“That’s the key,” said the Brazilian. “We have continued our preparations year after year and what we saw at the Asian Games is a culmination of those results. But as a coach, I can never be satisfied.
“Now we go back and begin our work to go into the next level. So there is no stopping. But I’m so happy with the achievements at the Asian Games.”
Elsewhere, Ali Al Lanjawi won a silver medal in Jet Ski Endurance Runabout Open final to add to the gold medal he won on Friday.
Al Lanjawi was initially declared the winner after topping the scoreboard but penalty deductions meant he was later demoted to second place with Aqsa Sultan Anwar of Indonesia claiming the gold medal while Suphathat Footrakul of Thailand took bronze.
Saif Al Mansoori clinched third place in the skeet to take the UAE’s overall tally to three gold, six silver and three bronze medals that lifted them up to 13th in the table.
It means a new record haul for the UAE at the continental showpiece, beating the previous best, set at the 2006 Games in Doha, of three gold, four silver and three bronze medals.
Updated: August 26, 2018 06:31 PM