UAE

Faisal Al Ketbi a step away from World Pro gold

Denzil Pinto 22/04/2017
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UAE’s top-ranked competitor Faisal Al Ketbi is just one win away from claiming his first gold in the black belt of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.

The Emirati, competing in his third year since being promoted from brown belt, will have a shot to claim the big prize in front of his home fans when he takes on Claudio Calasan in today’s 85kg final at the IPIC Arena.

Yesterday the crowd were treated to two spectacles with Al Ketbi getting his campaign off to a flyer with a 2-0 victory of Jordan’s Tahbet Al Taher before going one better in the semi-final.

Against Great Britan’s Ross Keeping, the scores were level at 0-0 for four minutes before Al Ketbi got the upper hand to score quick points in the 9-0 win.

Al Ketbi, who won his first black belt gold in the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam in November, was happy to have overcome the tests.

“It was a good day and hopefully tomorrow will be the same,” he said.

“I did my best and just followed by coach’s instructions and have now made it to the final.”

Brazil’s Calasan is next up and while he’s wary of his opponent, Al Ketbi is optimistic he can give the home crowd another reason to
celebrate.

“We are both fighting extremely well and for sure I expect to do my best. Hopefully I can win because I have trained very hard for this and it would be a dream to win gold in Abu Dhabi. Of course, I have the same chance as my opponent Calasan to win gold.”

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UAE

Jose Junior reaches World Pro final and claims UAEJJF World No.1 spot

Denzil Pinto 22/04/2017
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Jose Junior broke down in tears as the Abu Dhabi-based Brazilian cemented the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) World No1 ranking in his semi-final victory of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.

The 32-year-old used all his experience to come back against last year’s 94kg champion Erberth De Mesquita with two sweeps to win 4-0 and book his berth in today’s 110kg black belt final.

It means that Junior has claimed 300 points and an unassailable lead ahead of rival Gabriele Arges in UAEJJF’s world rankings.

The significance of the achievement was there to see as the rapturous crowd at the IPIC Arena brought the emotional Abu Dhabi schools programme instructor to tears. “I have been pursuing this World No1 title for a long time and this is the highest achievement that a black belt holder can have and it’s a dream come true,” said the beaming Junior, who beat Manuel Pontes in his group bout.

“I have some amazing training partners here and that kept me going. Today I gave it everything and it was my day.”

Ireland’s Chris Rowe now stands in his way of a first gold in the competition and Junior says another positive result would be the icing on the cake.

“It would be a fitting finish and I will not spare anything,” he said. “I have missed it twice before and I want to win this time round.”

Meanwhile, Felipe Pena, winner of last year’s Open category, has a chance to add another gold after reaching the 94kg final. The Brazilian overcame compatriot Alexandre Ribeiro 2-0 advantage points and will now face Poland’s Adam Wardzinski.

Also, there was disappointment for two-time defending 55kg champion and MMA rising star Mackenzie Dern. The 24-year-old American did not make the weight limit and withdrew from the competition.

Current World No1 Nathiely Melo de Jesus is making big strides just 12 months since being promoted from brown belt.

The Brazilian has won twice in Abu Dhabi and is hoping history repeats itself in the 90kg division following her win over Yacinta Nguyen of Canada by submission.

“I’m excited to be the women’s black belt No1 in less than a year after being promoted from brown belt,” she said. “I fought in brown belt in World Pro and to reach the black belt final is amazing.”

Beatrice Mesquita, fifth in the world rankings, has set up a Brown Black 62kg title clash with America’s Tammi Musumeci.

The Brazilian, a constant presence at the World Pro winning three golds and silvers, reached the final after a 6-2 win over Luiza Monteiro. “She was an opponent whom I knew very well,” said the 25-year-old. “I haven’t competed in all the Grand Slams but the World Pro is always my focus.”

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UAE

Inspiring wheelchair athletes shine at Fazza BISfed championship

Hiba Khan 20/04/2017
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The boccia courts at Dubai Club for Disabled were set ablaze by the strength and determination of wheelchair athletes from all over the world at the Fazza BISFed (Boccia International Sports Federation) Open Regional Championship 2016–17.

The event started on April 15, Saturday with 56 elite boccia players from 10 countries that finally came to an end on April 19 with stellar performances.

This is the fourth edition of the championship with UAE as the hosts, who were represented by 13 players and the ranking points accumulated here will help in qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

The word Boccia (pronounced BAW-CHA) is derived from the Italian word for ‘bowl’ and is a precision ball sport that requires muscle control, accuracy and mental focus to throw the ball as close to the Jack or target white ball.

Boccia has been a Paralympic sport since 1984 and is reportedly practised in 50 countries worldwide.

The participants are divided into four groups; BC1, BC2, BC3 and BC4, according to the nature of their disability.

BC3 athletes usually have impairment in all four limbs, which is why they are often accompanied by their assistants and play the sport using assistive ramps.

Spencer cotie and Alysha Winn

CHANGING LIVES

The activity has given meaning to wheelchair athletes who never thought they would be able to play sports, but possessed a strong penchant for it like 18-year-old Spencer Cotie from Australia, who competed with the aid of his assistant, Alysha Winn.

“I am a really big sports fan and I thought I would never be able to play sports, but once I heard of Boccia and I tried it out, it really changed things for me. It gave me a chance to show my competitive side that I have always had,” Cotie told Sport360 through his assistant, Alysha Winn.

Cotie has been ranked 71 in the world, but at the Fazza BISFed championship he has beaten some top-ranked boccia players.

He is currently studying to earn his high school certificate and is aiming to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic games in Tokyo.

The Australian teen was scouted by his coach Ken Halliday at his school and started training with him eight years ago.

Halliday saw Cotie’s playful spirit and immediately took him under his wing after convincing his parents to let him try out the sport.

He has been training with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance for five years and won a bronze medal in BC3 individual category at the Fazza championship.

“Spencer is really excelling at a really fast pace and now we are in the semi-finals, which is really beyond all our expectations,” said Alysha Winn.

Mother Son Duo

THE MOTHER-SON DUO

Like Spencer Cotie, Jong Ho kwon was another inspiring athlete who was present at the championship with his mother Ho Sun.

The 20-year-old hails from Korea and has cerebral palsy. His gym teacher in elementary school had asked his parents to let him try Boccia, but it wasn’t until middle school that he decided to give this sport a shot.

Throughout Jong Ho’s career as a Boccia player, his mother has been his one true constant and has seen him grow with the help of this sport.

“I noticed that his communication skills got better and he even became better at focusing on tasks. Boccia really helped him and he even has friends now,” she said.

Ho Sun is very dedicated to helping Jong Ho’s career reach new heights. Training everyday with Jong Ho caused her to develop a chronic back problem, but that didn’t stop her or her son.

“While I am assisting Jong Ho, I have to constantly bend and fix up the ramps for him and as a result of that I have constant backaches. When my husband saw my health failing, he really wanted us to quit and I almost did, but I spoke to him and I told Jong Ho that if he doesn’t work hard then I won’t be able to support him.

“It’s like my determination really touched him and ever since that point where we almost quit, Jong Ho has been training hard and whenever he wins a medal, he gives it to me as a present.

“Even if he gets disqualified from a competition he insists on staying through the rest of the competition so he can watch the players and learn from them to improve for the next match.”

Jong Ho is currently ranked number seven in Korea and 48 in the world.

He lost in the semi-finals to Spencer Cotie and finished fourth in the tournament.

However, with other competitions lined up there are plenty of opportunities for Jong Ho Kwon and other wheelchair athletes to keep working hard and improve their rankings.

Spencer Cotie and Kwon Jong Ho

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