Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Wadima Al Yafei returns to UAE from Grand Slam Los Angeles with jiu-jitsu gold medal

Emirati scored victories over Americans Sophia Lee (2-0) and Maureen Ramirez (4-2) to claim gold

Wadima Al Yafei was competing in only her second competition as a purple belt at the Grand Slam Los Angeles. Reem Mohammed / The National
Wadima Al Yafei was competing in only her second competition as a purple belt at the Grand Slam Los Angeles. Reem Mohammed / The National

Wadima Al Yafei returned to the UAE from the Grand Slam Los Angeles this past weekend with a gold medal to add to her growing collection.

Already the first Emirati female to win an international medal in jiu-jitsu, Al Yafei, 19, enhanced her reputation as one of the country's best prospects by winning the 49-kilogram purple belt division in California.

In only her second appearance in the category, Al Yafei scored victories over Americans Sophia Lee (2-0) and Maureen Ramirez (4-2) to claim gold.

It represents a significant improvement for the Emirati teenager in her maiden campaign competing as a purple belt.

Promoted to purple soon after her debut in the adult division at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship in April, Al Yafei was eliminated from the first round at the Grand Slam Tokyo in July.

Meanwhile, Emirati fighters representing club teams in Los Angeles returned with 20 golds, 16 silvers and 15 bronze medals, mainly from the juvenile division across the two days of competition.

In the black belts, the Brazilians once again dominated with the men scooping all seven golds while their women took three of five.

Women’s world No 1 Gabrieli Pessanha, Luiza Monteiro and Mayssa Bastos took home gold for Brazil while Australia's Hope Douglas and Sweden's Martina Gramenius took the other two.

The men’s event was highlighted by Ricardo Evangelista’s winning a first gold medal since leaving Abu Dhabi last month.

The Brazilian clinched the 120kg final with a 4-2 victory over Poland’s Gerard Labinski 4-2. He paid tribute to the UAE where he worked as a coach for the Abu Dhabi based Commando Group for six years.

“I coached and competed around the world using the name of my work place during my time in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

“I learnt how to love the people and their culture in the country. I had my best day of my life when I became a father. I am grateful for the Emirati people for their kindness and hospitality that I received, and I left having made lot of friends.

“Obviously I’m happy with the result from my first competition since April. I came across two tough opponents and that wasn’t surprising in a grand slam.”

Updated: September 17, 2019 04:24 PM

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