After four days of competition, it was the turn of the disabled athletes to prove that there are no barriers when it comes to playing sport.
A new addition to the schedule, each of the 55 contestants from 14 nations were greeted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation chairman Abdulmunam Al Hashemi before they took to the centre mat for the Abu Dhabi World Para-Jiu-Jitsu Championships.
With no shortage of support in a vibrant IPIC Arena, it was a total different experience that they would be used to back home.
There was something to cheer for the home fans as Mohammed Essa Al Balooshi beat Kazakhstan’s Ildar Zainalov for gold.
— Denzil M Pinto (@denz_360) April 14, 2017
“I had a lot of support from the home crowd today which was amazing and I wanted to win for them,” he said. “As the only Emirati para-athlete I want to show the world that the UAE can do a lot of things. The biggest support today has come from my Mum – in nine years of competing this is the first time she has ever come and watch me so I am so happy I won in front of her.”
Flavio Leonardo was one of many Brazilians to stand on top of the podium.
The 21-year-old was already familiar to jiu-jitsu before a motorbike accident 16 months ago saw him lose his left leg. Yet that didn’t stop him competing in a sport that he loves. “It’s unbelieveable to come from Brazil,” he said, who won in the Class 2 purple class.
“I won in a competition in Brazil and very excited to be here and for sure I’ll be back again next year.”
— UAEJJF (@uaejjf) April 14, 2017
American Roland Mann, who beat Brazil’s Marcelo Silva, to win gold and hopes his peers have sent out a message that anything is possible. “We fight together as a family and there is no ego,” said the 45-year-old ex-soldier, who has been an amputee since 1995 after a motorbike accident
“I used martial arts as a recovery and show what ability is in mixed martial arts and it’s great to show what we can do.”
For Stuart Penn, he had to settle for silver after being beaten by Australia’s Sean Fong in the Class 2 C final. But the 39-year-old was left in awe of the whole surroundings.
“It was just amazing experience,” said the Briton, who was born with one fully-formed limb.
“I’m proud of what we did and wanted to make the match more entertaining and keep myself in the game. He was a strong guy and he paid a real compliment saying I was really tough to hang on and I’m really proud to be here.”
The annual camel trek organized by HHC may only be just a week long, but is said to have a long-lasting impact on the trekkers as they lived, dressed and ate the bedouin way.
Their life in the convoy was completely different from the one they had been leading in the city and it truly changed their perspective on a lot of things.
The fifth Sports Industry Awards (SPIAs) took place on Tuesday night, with the region’s leaders in sport honoured during a glitzy gala event in Dubai.
Organised by Sport360° and held at Madinat Jumeirah’s Fort Island, the 2017 edition saw gold, silver and bronze gongs handed out across 16 categories.
The big winner on the night was adidas and Light Blue, who took home both the Best Integrated Sports Marketing Campaign of the Year and Best Sports Brand, Retail or Product Activation of the Year for their First Never Follows campaign.
Zayed Sports City was named Best Sport & Recreation Facility of the Year and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was named Best Live Experience at a Professional Sports Event, giving the UAE capital two big wins.
Abu Dhabi wasn’t done there with Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management/Starcom also claiming gold in the Best Use of Social Media in Sport of the Year campaign thanks to TriYAS’ Make yourself great again campaign.
You can see the full list of winners at SPIA 2017 below…
Best Integrated Sports Marketing Campaign of the Year
GOLD – Adidas (First Never Follows) LightBlue
SILVER – Shazam Me Garage366 SILVER
BRONZE – Access to Play Sun & Sand Sports
Best Sport Event Marketing Campaign of the Year
GOLD – du Football Champions Inspiratus
SILVER – Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Abu Dhabi Sports Council / IMG
BRONZE – Million Dirham Putt Emirates NBD / Wasserman
Best Use of Social Media in Sport of the Year
GOLD – TriYAS – Make yourself great again! Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management / Starcom
SILVER – beIN SPORTS EURO 2016 OMD / beIN SPORTS
Best Amateur Sport Event of the Year (UAE Only)
GOLD – FIGHTING FIT DUBAI, Powered by Under Armour ‘FIGHT NIGHT’ Nomad Productions
SILVER – Abu Dhabi Swimming Festival by Daman’s ActiveLife Professional Sports Group / Abu Dhabi Sports Council
BRONZE – The Color Run presented by Daman’s ActiveLife IMG
Best Amateur Sport Event of the Year (MENA Only)
GOLD – Dolphin Energy Doha Dash (Qatar) Professional Sports Group
SILVER – Sportscode 5k Sundays (Lebanon) Sportscode
Best Youth Development Project of the Year
GOLD – Eish Al Tahadi Saudi Telecom Company / Intigral
SILVER – Player Pathway Program UAE Rugby Federation
BRONZE – ADIB Future Champions League ADIB / IMG
Best Sport CSR Initiative of the Year
GOLD – ADIB Future Champions League ADIB / IMG
SILVER – Boost Turret ME
BRONZE – MoneyGram Cricket Ke Badshah – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. DPM Event Management / MoneyGram
BRONZE – Active Life by Daman Daman