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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Spotlight falls on jiu-jitsu team as UAE embrace medal expectations at Asian Games

Three-day competition begins on Friday with six Emirati fighters in action, including black belt Talib Al Kirbi

From left to right: Bashayer Al Matrooshi, Wadima Al Yafei, Mahra Al Hanaei and Hessa Al Shamsi of the UAE jiu-jitsu team after the weigh-in. Courtesy Adil Al Naimi
From left to right: Bashayer Al Matrooshi, Wadima Al Yafei, Mahra Al Hanaei and Hessa Al Shamsi of the UAE jiu-jitsu team after the weigh-in. Courtesy Adil Al Naimi

UAE jiu-jitsu coach, Ramon Lemos, is confident his team will end the nation’s wait for medals at the Asian Games in Indonesia on Friday.

With the jiu-jitsu competition set to begin at the Convention Centre in Jakarta, there are three gold medals up for grabs, two for men and one for women, on Day 1 of the three-day event.

Lemos has talked up his team’s chances and is convinced all six Emirati fighters competing on the first day have every chance of reaching the medal rounds.

“We had a very good camp. Our fighters have done their bit and are waiting for the competition to begin,” the Brazilian said during the weigh-in and draw ceremony on Thursday.

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“If you ask me if they can reach the medal rounds I will say yes, they all will but that’s not how it works. In competition, especially in combat sports, the results are not guaranteed. We can achieve some good results and sometimes not.

“But I believe they all have the potential to reach the medal rounds for the work they have been doing for the past few months.”

Day 1 of the action for the UAE will see Wadima Al Yafei and Mahra Al Hanaei participate in the women’s 49-kilogram weight.

In the men’s event, Hamad Nawad and Khalid Iskander Al Balushi compete in the 56kg division, while Talib Al Kirbi and Humaid Al Kaabi will vie for honours in the 69kg class.

“They are all very excited to step on to the mat,” Lemos said. “They have been going through the motions in the last two days, maintaining their weights and relaxing.”

Lemos believes the draw is of little concern and insisted his fighters are prepared to meet any kind of opposition in their bids to reach the medal rounds.

“We have prepared our fighters to be ready to meet any kind of opposition,” he said. “There can be elements of surprise when you are up against the unknown. We have prepared our fighters keeping that in mind.

“We expect some of the competitors to have made the switch from other martial arts. They can pose a different kind of challenge, for instance, by bringing in a mixture of wrestling and judo.”

Of the six fighters on the opening day of the competition for the UAE, Al Kirbi is the most experienced and has drawn a first round bye. The five others in action are teenagers.

Al Kirbi is only the second Emirati black belt after Faisal Al Ketbi. He won gold at last year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan, and is hopeful of replicating that feat in Jakarta.

“Of course the expectations not only from me but the entire team is very high because of the development program we have had in the country,” Al Kirbi said. “Obviously our goal is to win as many medals as possible and I believe we have the stuff to achieve those objectives.

“For me, I have been in jiu-jitsu for more than 10 years and know how to deal with the pressure and also to win at any competition.

“The fights won’t be easy but I’m going into the competition with a lot of confidence from the work we have done in the past six weeks. We want to see a few medals on the board for our country and this is our chance.”

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