Ketbi-led UAE jiu-jitsu stars ready to soar higher at World Games

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Faisal Al Ketbi, who won gold at the 2017 World Games in Poland, competes in the 83-kilogram weight.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

There is an air of optimism surrounding the UAE National Jiu-Jitsu Team ahead of the start of its World Games campaign in Birmingham, Alabama.

The squad has completed its official weigh-ins ahead of the competition and now the country hopes to repeat the impressive performances witnessed during the previous edition of the Games in 2017.

The Emirati stars arrive in buoyant mood after enjoying a medal-winning streak for the last few months.

The ‘fantastic five’ of Faisal Al Ketbi (85kg), Muhammad Al Amri (77kg), Muhammad Al Suwaidi (69kg), Shamma Al Kalbani (63kg) and Balqees Abdelkareem (48 kg) believe they can repeat their recent successes, which effectively earned them spots in Alabama in the first place. “The team prepared well during a month-long camp held in Los Angeles,” said Ketbi, the captain of the national team.

“The players’ focus and determination are at the highest levels, which will inspire them to replicate last year’s continental and international successes and strengthen the UAE’s position globally.”

At the 2017 Games, Al Ketbi came in under the radar to claim gold with a series of strong technical performances. “It is different this time from the previous edition that I participated in Poland in 2017 because there are five players representing the UAE, all of whom are champions on both the continental and international levels, and all of whom came to Birmingham with the intention of winning gold and standing atop podiums.”

Ketbi added that over the past five years, jiu-jitsu has undergone a significant qualitative leap in the Emirates courtesy of the limitless support from the UAE’s visionary leadership and UAE Jiu Jitsu Federation’s (UAEJJF) efforts and strategic plan to grow the sport. “We are fully aware that the competitions won’t be easy due to the presence of strong players from different continents, but we trust ourselves enough to have studied with the national team’s technical staff the strategies of potential opponents.

“We are prepared to handle all contingencies and we hope that we will be successful on the mat.” Under the direction of coaches Ramon Lemos and Polyana Lago, the squad held a practice on Wednesday in a positive, upbeat environment.

The session was attended by Tariq Al Bahri, director of the support services department, and Mubarak Al Menhali, director of the technical department, UAEJJF and head of the UAE delegation to the US. After the session, Abdel Moneim Al Hashemi, chairman of the UAEJJF, president of the Jiu-Jitsu Asian Union, and senior vice president of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation, called the UAE delegation to offer his full support and encouragement to the competitors.

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