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UAE’s Hanawi and Shehhi seal gold medals as Abu Dhabi labelled ‘Jiu-Jitsu capital of the world’

Day three of the 13th Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship (ADWPJJC), the largest and most prestigious event on the global calendar, provided some intense competitive action on the mats as the Masters level athletes battled it out for glory in the brown and black belt divisions.

The 13th ADWPJJC, which runs until Nov.19 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, brought 4,000 athletes from the UAE and around the world to compete for global honours in the Jiu-Jitsu Arena, with the two-day Masters championship giving seasoned athletes over the age of 30 the chance for glory.

Fahd Ali Al Shamsi, Secretary-General of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, said: “The sport of Jiu-Jitsu is on the rise in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, and the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship has succeeded in gathering the sport’s best competitors from all around the world. These tremendous athletes have shown us their wealth of experience on the mat today.”

Shamsi, who gave special praise to UAE contestant Haitham Hanawi and Mohamed Al Shehhi for their gold in the Masters category, highlighted the organisational efficiency of the tournament.

He also praised the achievements of the UAE athletes who achieved 6 silver and 3 bronze in two days of the Masters championship.

Shamsi said: “In the UAE and through the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, our aim is to organize and host tournaments at the highest level, according to the highest international standards. “

“What we are witnessing today is the organizational efficiency that gives us exceptional success and enables us to host more than 4,000 players from all over the world. This gives us great pride, and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this success, especially the Federation’s partners.”

Abu Dhabi was labelled “the UAE capital of the world” and credited with growing the popularity of the sport worldwide by a number of the athletes competing at Masters level.

Athletes credit Abu Dhabi for spreading popularity of the sport around the world.

Brazilian athlete Pedro Duarte, a 46-year-old, won gold in the black belt Masters 4, 94kg category. He said: “It’s fantastic to see how Jiu Jitsu is part of the culture now – Abu Dhabi is definitely the Jiu Jitsu capital of the world. I have watched the youngsters competing, and now I see fellow local and international black belts – the sport is so widespread, it’s a pleasure to watch it grow.”

He added: “Jiu jitsu is growing all over the world because of Abu Dhabi and Brazil. The country has dedicated so much to the sport and you can see the impact of this across the globe. It’s a dream for Brazilians to come here. When I visit my friends and family back home, the only thing they ask is about the tournaments here and they really resonate with the UAE and the efforts that have been put in to grow the sport.”

Abdullah Al Junaibi from the Oman Jiu Jitsu Academy, who won gold in the brown belt 62 kg category, agreed. He said: “This is my second year in a row winning first place in this competition, it feels amazing, I feel proud and motivated to keep moving forward.

“Abu Dhabi is the capital for Jiu jitsu. The technology, commitment, energy and professionalism are all on a different level. I feel this is the best place for a Jiu Jitsu championship and I really believe the UAE is become a leader in this sport. My plan for the future right now is to go back to Oman and keep teaching, motivating, and inspiring others to practice Jiu Jitsu. It is a sport which really benefits the individual, and in turn ultimately benefits the wider society,” added Al Junaibi. 

Marina Ribeiro, a 36-year-old Brazilian living in the capital, hailed the energy of the competition after claiming gold in the Masters 1, 62kg division in brown black belt.

Normally a Jiu Jitsu trainer, Ribiero was back on the mat as a contestant for the first time in nearly six years at the ADWPJJC. The Palms Sports athlete said: “It’s amazing to win gold today. It’s great to come back to compete. To actually be able to win gold is a dream.

 “Jiu-Jitsu is growing so fast in the country. The number of Emiratis now involved in the sport is mind-blowing. The number of them fighting at such a high technical level is just amazing. Most of my students are Emirati and they go from 10 years old to adults. I’ve been coaching for 8 years, and the number of Emiratis involved from that time to now has grown significantly.

“The majority of my students are local and are girls – it’s great to see how the UAE is empowering women to partake in the sport,” added Ribiero.

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