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ABU DHABI: Emirati athletes dominated competition on the opening day of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Slam World Tour finale held at Zayed Sports City’s Jiu-Jitsu Arena and featuring more than 1,000 male and female participants from 42 countries.

In the three-day jiu-jitsu event for participants aged under-18 the UAE’s 35 gold medals ensured they surpassed Brazil and Russia, who finished second and third respectively.

Palms Sports Academy secured first place in the clubs division, while Al-Ain and Sharjah Self-Defence Sports Club took second and third place respectively.

“Today’s competitions saw amazing technical levels and brilliant performances by young men and women who have demonstrated that they are on the right track to achieve an outstanding professional career in the coming years,” said Mohamed Salem Al-Dhaheri, vice president of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

“One of the most important aspects of this tournament is the opportunity for UAE athletes to meet with their colleagues from other jiu-jitsu schools around the world. This has a positive impact on refining their talent, developing their experience and preparing them in the best possible way to compete in upcoming competitions.”

Tariq Al Bahri, general manager of Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Pro, said: “Today’s results demonstrate once again that Abu Dhabi Grand Slam tournaments are gaining enormous popularity. We enjoyed large crowds cheering on the competitors, but more importantly all the participants put on fantastic performances, serving as motivation for them to continue to improve and strive for even better results in the future.”

The tournament’s first day was attended by a multinational crowd, with many travelling to support friend and family members from neighbouring countries.

“My family and I travelled from Saudi Arabia to support my son Abdul Rahman, who won the gold medal,” said Abdullah Fakih. “I am really proud of him and his accomplishment. I am here on the stands for the fourth time since my son began his international participation. Words cannot express the beautiful atmosphere and the immersive experiences that Abu Dhabi and its championships give to visitors and participants.”

Twelve-year-old Abdul Rahman, a grey belt from Saudi’s BPG Arena Academy, said: “The encouragement of friends and family pushes us to always do our best. I dedicate this victory to them and promise them more. I’m always excited to compete in the Abu Dhabi competitions since they provide a terrific opportunity to compete against top players from across the world.”

Abdel Moneim Al-Hashemi, Chairman of the UAEJJF, President of the Ju-Jitsu Asian Union and senior vice-president of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation; HE Mohamed Salem Al-Dhaheri, Vice Chairman, UAEJJF; Tareq Al Bahri, General Manager, AJP; and several officials, guests and representatives of academies were present during the event.

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