Great expectations for UAE’s jiu-jitsu stars ahead of ‘most intensive’ new season

ABU DHABI: As the start of the new UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation season approaches, the preparations of the country’s top athletes are well underway in the quest to maintain recent international success.

Emirati athletes have been undertaking intensive training programs supervised by technical staff from the national team, as well as local academies and clubs, said national team coach Ramon Lemos.

The upcoming season, which starts on Feb. 12, promises to be another busy one for the UAE’s leading fighters as they prepare to compete in major international tournaments, including July’s World Games in the US, September’s Asian Games in China, October’s Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in the UAE capital, and November’s Abu Dhabi World Professional Championship.

Lemos, the UAE national team’s Brazilian coach, welcomed the new calendar, which features a mix of local and international tournaments.

He said: “We are starting the new season at a point where we will need a lot of physical training, technical sessions, and mental and psychological work to refine and grow our champions.

“The technical staff of the national team and coaches of state-level clubs and academies are eager to keep ahead of the latest international training practices developing daily. They also want to adopt high-efficiency physical training programs that can improve their flexibility, speed, balance, and focus in the heat of competition.”

He also thanked the UAEJJF for its planning and efforts in designing tournaments that genuinely contributed toward improving the overall level of competitions, as well as expanding the base of participants, which he pointed out would help players and clubs improve their rankings. The national team’s success in achieving impressive results over the past few years, as well as the emergence of several young talents, requires them to put in more effort and work diligently to maintain that level, Lemos added.

Mahdi Al-Awlaki, who represents the national team and Baniyas club, said preparations for the upcoming season were already in full swing.

“The players did not stop practicing throughout the off-season. We understand the importance of remaining fully prepared and physically fit, especially given the busy schedules of local and international events. Fans have great hopes for us players as well, so there is a responsibility there too.

“The players train daily under the supervision of the team and club’s technical staff. We recognize the magnitude of the trust placed in us. Also, of course, we have our own goals, which have always been to improve our level of performance and acquire new skills that can help us repeat past accomplishments, climb podiums, and achieve even greater goals for the team, clubs, and academies we represent,” Al-Awlaki added.

Theyab Al-Nuaimi, the national team’s emerging star and gold medalist at the recent Asian Championship, noted the competitiveness of this year’s calendar. His focus, he said, would be on some local competitions and the team’s external involvement.

But his heart was set on winning gold at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship and the Asian Games, as well as helping cement the UAE’s position as a global leader in jiu-jitsu.

“We are very enthusiastic for the start of the season’s first competition next week and have prepared well ahead of time.

“I expect the competitions to be the most intensive this year, especially since the federation’s events are prestigious and will attract many new fans and practitioners, both of which will positively reflect on the development of jiu-jitsu in the UAE,” Al-Nuaimi added.

Meanwhile, fighter Shamma Al-Kalbani of Palms Academy Team 777, was proud that the new season provided equal prospects for growth and advancement.

She said: “We would like to express our gratitude to the UAEJJF for providing an ideal atmosphere for UAE girls to reach their goals in this sport.

“We are looking forward to excelling locally as a foundation for representing the national team and advancing to podiums at international events,” she added.