Jose Junior says last year’s defeat in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship has only fuelled his determination to not only claim gold this month but also finish the season as the top-ranked competitor.
The 31-year-old Abu-Dhabi-based Brazilian goes into this year’s competition, which gets underway on Monday, eager to make amends having fallen short of winning the Open weight title when he lost to his compatriot Felipe Pena.
Since then, he has responded in style this season, winning nine golds, four silvers and four bronzes.
That has put him at the top of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJ) world rankings with a total of 1,750 points. His nearest challenger, Gabriel Arges De Sousa, who he beat at the London leg of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam last month, sits second with 1,610 points. With a maximum 400 points up for grabs in the season-finale, Junior says he’s raring to make it a double celebration in his adopted homeland.
— UAEJJF (@uaejjf) April 3, 2017
“After I lost the gold last year, the next day I was training to fix my mistakes,” said Jose, who will compete in the 110kg black belt division of the April 10-23 competition.
“It was the third time I got second place and this year I am really motivated and I am not going to let it happen again. Inshallah, I will take first place.
“I have had some great results this year and have been taking part in a lot of competitions in preparation for the World Pros as this is the main tournament of the season for all the athletes.
“I have full trust in my coaching team and training regime. I wouldn’t be able to do this by myself and though it is an individual sport, we need our training partners and colleagues.
“Thankfully, I don’t have any injuries so I feel very confident that I can have a great championship. For sure it is always the best tournament to be part of.”
— Denzil M Pinto (@denz_360) April 3, 2017
Based in the capital as a jiu-jitsu instructor, Junior has seen the sport grow rapidly with thousands of Emiratis competing.
With the UAE national team members including top-ranked Faisal Al Ketbi undergoing an intensive training camp prior to the competition, Junior says the UAEJJF are going in the right direction.
“The UAE team is very good,” he said. “I am doing part of the camp with them and I think they have improved a lot from the past years.
“I believe what they did in eight years, would take 40 or 50 years but still they need to progress more.”
A new addition to this year’s schedule is the Para Jiu-Jitsu event.
UAEJJF officials confirmed that the category has attracted more than 100 competitors from 17
“This edition is going to be the biggest and best yet, not only for the Federation itself but for players and spectators alike,” said Abdulmunem Al Sayed Mohammed Al Hashmi, chairman of the UAEJJF.
Al-Attiyah and Sunderland extended their leads in the car and motorcycle categories by claiming victories through the opening 276.59km selective section of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan on Sunday.
The stage started east of Arjan, south of Abu Dhabi, and finished north of the remote desert resort of Qasr al Sarab.
Dakar Rally winner Sunderland started last on the road but claimed the win by just three seconds and holds an overnight advantage of just 5.7 seconds over the Chilean defending FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Pablo Quintanilla, riding his Husqvarna.
Sunderland said: “It was good to win the stage on Saturday and have the choice of position, because this race is quite strategic. It was a heavy day, really tough, and we had to push a lot. To start last and finish first was not easy. The deserts are really unpredictable out there.
“With the rain of the past weeks, I lost the front (of the bike) in the sand, in the soft dunes, braking a few times. This caused a bit of stress. But the bike is working good. I will take each day as it comes. Obviously starting first on Monday, I will lose time. But we will see.”
“It was a really difficult stage,” said Quintanilla. “I came from behind with Sam. I rode really fast and I was leading for a time. But it was a good stage. It was important to come back strongly from my crash on the Dakar and get my confidence again.”
Kuwait’s Mohammed Jaffar and Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi reached the finish in eighth and ninth overall on their respective KTMs.
Al-Attiyah cruised to the stage win in the cars and his Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux now leads the event by 11in 35.1sec from Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi.
Al-Attiyah said: “It was not easy, but we had a good start position – sixth. We push very hard in the first 70km and pass everybody just to make the gap big. We don’t have any problems. Everything is working very well. Our Toyota is good. It was very hot. Inside the cabin it was 52 (Centigrade). We try and drink water and some energy liquid. Now we see for the next day.”
Russian Vladimir Vasilyev finished third in his X-raid Mini All4 Racing, Czech Miroslav Zapletal was fourth and fellow countryman Martin Prokop produced an impressive performance in his Ford to claim the fifth fastest time. Italian Eugenio Amos was a surprise sixth in the unofficial standings.
Kuwaiti Fahad Al-Musallam’s advantage in the quad section was short-lived and the Kuwaiti slipped out of the top five in the quad category behind Poland’s stage winning Kamil Wisniewski and Guatemala’s Rodolfo Schippers. Italy’s Camelia Liparoti produced a good performance to finish third.
“The first stage has never been easy as today has proved. But it’s a way for the competitors to acclimatise to the heat and the conditions before they enter much longer sections of dunes over the coming days,” said event founder and ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
Saudi Arabia’s Yasir Saeidan has unfinished business in the T2 category after missing out on last year’s title and he made a strong start to his Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge campaign and was the front-running T2 driver at the early passage control checks.
Local driver Mansoor Al-Helai’s plan to push hard in the T2 category suffered a severe setback when he ground to a halt before PC1. Meanwhile, Marat Abykayev’s challenge for T2 honours suffered a terminal blow when the Kazakh crashed his Toyota Land Cruiser heavily early in the stage and co-driver Andrey Chipenko sustained an injury.
The medical helicopter was summoned and his co-driver was airlifted to Madinat Zayed hospital with a head injury. He was conscious and in a stable condition.
Dubai-based Saluki Motorsport is running three different makes of car for founder Mark Powell (Buggy), UAE-based Georgy Gomshiashvili (Predator X185) and rookie Omani Abdullah Al-Zubair (Nissan Patrol).
Experienced Welshman Quin Evans, Russian Nikita Abramov and former Dakar enduro rider Annie Seel, from Sweden, have been tasked with navigating duties. The trio began the day in 33rd, 30th and 25th overall.
On Monday, competitors enter the feared dunes of the Rub Al-Khali for the first time. The stage starts on the road from Mezaira’a to Madinat Zayed and heads west towards two passage controls off the Ghayathi Road, before reaching PC3, near Arada, and heading to a finish near Moreeb Hill.
The stage runs for 289.39km and a liaison of 99.69km guides entrants back to the bivouac.
Sport360 brings you the ultimate guide to this week’s sporting events in the UAE.
Are you attending or participating in one of the following events?
Let us know!
Message us on Instagram, use #Sport360.
ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE
Monday, April 3 to Thursday, April 6
Under its first moniker, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was widely considered one of the world’s more prestigious international cross-country rallies. Founded by motorsport legend and ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the competition has seen respected names such as Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae and Heinz Kinigadner visit the Emirates.
Entering a new era in 2009, the format changed to five days of motorsport action staged across the Abu Dhabi emirate. Now celebrating its 27th anniversary, the 2017 edition returns as the opening round of the 2017 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship as well as third round of the 2017 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, reprising its role as one of the capital city’s most important historic events.
Previous iterations have seen motorbikes, quadbikes and four wheel trucks compete in cross-emirate stages but a gradual movement in recent years solidified Abu Dhabi’s position as sole emirate to host this event thanks to its vast desert terrain.
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Yas Marina Circuit
MORE INFO: abudhabidesertchallenge.com
AST INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP DUBAI 2017
Tuesday, April 4
Aspire Sports Tour have a wealth of ex-professional football experience under their belt. The organisation is responsible for multiple sports events across the world, but its the popularity of their football tournaments that have captured the most attention.
Soon headed towards Dubai, AST proudly presents the upcoming edition of the AST International Champions Cup, which will attract figures from the finest academies, clubs and schools.
Interested individuals of all young ages – from eight to eighteen – are encouraged to sign up in one of the six available categories.
WHERE: Dubai, Dubai Sports City
MORE INFO: aspiresportstours.com/football-tournaments
AUTISM GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP – YAS LINKS
Thursday, April 6
One of the largest charity events in the United Arab Emirates returns. As part of three events spread throughout the calendar, the Autism Golf Championship works with the philanthropic Al Jalila Foundation, an organisation dedicated to medical education and research in the region.
The first two events, both held in April, pit competing golfers across spectacular golf courses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, while the final event takes these participants to Ajman’s tranquil, albeit impressive Al Zorah Golf Club.
After a simple online registration process, teams will take to the golf course and attempt to come out on top, booking themselves a memorable prize. Victors will move forward to the Grand Finale, hosted in Malaysia and experience the best The Els Clubs has to offer.
The format of play is pairs better ball Stableford with a 75% Gross Index.
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Yas Links
MORE INFO: autismgolfchampionship.com
DUBAI DESERT ROAD RUN – RUN 4
Friday, April 7
Held several times a year, the Desert Road Run appeals to athletes of all levels, from first timers to seasoned runners.
Essentially a community run encouraging participation, the course has a private traffic-free road that extends to a 10km distance for experienced runners, and 3km for newcomers.
WHERE: Dubai, The Sevens Stadium
MORE INFO: dubairunning.com
NYUAD ITRI 2016/17 – FINAL RACE
Friday, April 7
Hosted with athletes of all fitness levels in mind waves of eight individuals will swim for 10 minutes in NYUAD’s 50m-long pool and then cycle for 30 minutes on spike bikes. Participants will then conclude by running for 15 minutes on the rubber indoor track.
Waves will leave 20 minutes in tandem and refreshments will be available at the Performance Gymnasium.
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, New York University, C2 Campus Centre,
MORE INFO: premieronline.com/action/download.php
RAK DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL 2017 – DAY 1
Friday, April 7
Held in Ras Al Khaimah, participants are in for a treat as each team is made up of 20 members (no more than 16 men) who will compete against rivals in a bid for supremacy.
Keen individuals unfamiliar with the watersport will receive two hour-long training sessions under the watchful eyes of internationally-certified professionals to help get teams accustomed to techniques and equipment ahead of the main event.
Once the races come to a close, athletes are urged to revel in their efforts by attending the post-race party for a beach barbecue at the Bin Majid Beach Resort in Al Hamra.
WHERE: Ras Al Khaimah, Al Jazirah Al Hamra, Bin Majid Beach Resort
MORE INFO: dubaidragonboat.com/Event-Calendar.aspx
TEHRAN INTERNATIONAL MARATHON
Friday, April 7
In 2016, Iran organise its first marathon in Shiraz, welcoming thousands of enthusiastic Iranians and foreign nationals from 35 countries. In April 7, its capital, Tehran, will open its doors to the public for its first-ever International Marathon.
Most popular sports in the country are practiced indoors, and street running, for many, is a leisurely activity on the rise. Aside from the main event, people are encouraged to take part in the 21km and 10km categories, while children can run the full 1km length.
The route will take runners from the Azadi monument, symbolising 2,500 years of culture and history before making their way to the Azadi stadium which boasts a capacity of 90,000 spectators.
WHERE: Dubai, Tehran, Azadi Square
MORE INFO: iruniran.com
RIDE AJMAN 2017
Friday, April 7
Merit to a partnership between the Ajman Tourism Development Department, Government of Ajman as well as several luxury hotels scattered across the emirate, Ride Ajman is able to see through its second year.
The first-class cycling event has also expanded to 104km with full road closures. In order to promote the race, Ride Ajman introduces an all-new 52km category for aspirants who are not quite on par with the necessary level of expertise.
While eyes will be on cash prizes totalling Dh138,000, a 7km charity ride for families will also be available so even the little ‘uns can relish the weather by the corniche.
WHERE: Ajman, Corniche
MORE INFO: facebook.com/RIDEAJMAN
DUBAI CUP 2017
Friday, April 7
The Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is responsible for multiple charitable and sports endeavours. After hosting the McLaren Cup, Polo Masters Cup, Julius Baer Golf Cup and Dubai Challenge Cup, all that remains is one final competition before the UAE’s heat sets in for the summer.
The Dubai Cup, the fifth and final tournament of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup series, will now inaugurate its third edition. The format follows a medium 8-10 goal handicap played under the banner of the Hurlingham Polo Association.
Families can cherish the mastery of horseriding and polo prowess on full display while organising a casual picnic with loved ones by the sidelines of the polo field. Guests on a Friday have the prospect of delighting in the The Regis Brunch on the terrace overlooking the field, capitalising on a 5-star dining experience.
WHERE: Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club
MORE INFO: dubaipologoldcup.com
FERRARI ASIA PACIFIC CHALLENGE 2017
Saturday, April 8
Inaugurated in 1993, the Ferrari Challenge has amassed popularity over the years thanks to its expansion across Asia.
The Asia Pacific division – the most recent Challenge series entrant – includes races in Japan, China, Malaysia and Singapore.
This mini-tournament presents drivers from 15 nationalities of various levels; novice and experienced riders.
While most eyes will remain fixed on the unfolding spectacle, attendees may also get close and personal with the impressive cars during the pit lane walk.
Don’t leave on an empty stomach as the Belgium Café offers brunch packages, with entertainment starting well before the race starts.
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit
MORE INFO: yasmarinacircuit.com