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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Khalifa Al Kaabi targets Asian Games place after another gold at Abu Dhabi World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship

A thrilling final win over Ferreira preserved the Emirati's unbeaten record at Mubadala Arena

<p>Khalifa Al Kaabi (blue) raises his hands in victory after defeating&nbsp;Athos Benjamin Ferreira. Victor Besa / The National</p>
Khalifa Al Kaabi (blue) raises his hands in victory after defeating Athos Benjamin Ferreira. Victor Besa / The National

After leaving an indelible mark in the juvenile division, Khalifa Al Kaabi has turned his attention to a place on the UAE national team for the Asian Games in September.

Al Kaabi, 17, rounded off the season by winning a thrilling blue belt 60-kilogram final against Brazilian Athos Ferreira at the Abu Dhabi World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship at Mubadala Arena on Tuesday.

Ferreira won an early advantage point and he almost succeeding in keeping it until Al Kaabi unlocked himself from the Brazilian’s hold to win with a spectacular sweep.

“I knew Athos didn’t want to fight as he had an advantage point,” said Al Kaabi, who completed the season undefeated and remains world No 1 in the juvenile blue belt.

“I tried a few manoeuvres but he stayed very firm on his stomach. I was atop him and bid my time. I watched the clock tick by and scored off the sweep leaving him no chance for a come-back.”

Helder Medeiros, Al Kaabi’s coach, was full of praise praise for the Emirati teenager and his achievements this season.

“He’s done exceptionally well to win all his competitions in the last 12 months and now with the World Youths behind him, he can focus on the Asian Games,” the Brazilian said.

“Khalifa had a plan and he executed it to perfection. The other guy had a plan also. He held Khalifa’s leg and tried to avoid his attempts to go on top of his back, but we had trained for this move and it was successful at the end.”

Also on the top step of the podium on Tuesday was Mahra Al Hanaei, who defeated fellow Emirati Khuloud Al Nuaimi to win the girls blue belt 52kg final.

Like Al Kaabi, Al Hanaei, 16, a member of the UAE national women’s team, will be focusing on the Asian Games after winning all three of her fights by submission at the World Youths.

“I’m not sure of the national team plans at the moment but I’m back in training at the Al Ain Club from next week,” she said. “It’s still too early to talk about the Asian Games but the way I have performed in the World Youths and with more training I’m confident I’ll be at a good level come September.”

The two juvenile finals were completed ahead of the King of Mat competition, staged for past winners of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.

Alexander Trans prevented a Brazilian sweep of the gold medals in the King of Mat competition when the Dane outclassed Roberto Filho to take the heavyweight title.

Brazilians Leonardo Saggioro and Charles Santos took the lightweight and middle weight titles.

Saggioro edged out Gianni Grippo of the United States on the referee’s verdict after a 0-0 deadlock and Santos outclassed compatriot Jaime Canuto in their final.

Earlier in the day, Thalison Soares retained the World Pro purple belt 56kg title for the second straight year. The Brazilian cruised through his draw before his win over Jeison Mora of Colombia by submission in the final.

In the 62 kg purple belt, Lucas Rodrigues got the better of 2017 winner Diego Batista and top seed Jonas Andrade en route to the purple belt 62kg title.

The Brazilian, however, had to overcome a scare in the final before getting the better of Japan’s Shoya Ishiguro 2-0 on points.