Best Emirati and international athletes recognised in a glittering ceremony at Emirates Palace on Sunday
For the third consecutive year, the end-of-season gala organised by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation recognised the best Emirati and international athletes during the 2017-18 season at Emirates Palace across 26 categories.
Al Ketbi was beaten by Isaque Braz in Saturday’s 85kg final at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. However, that didn’t stop him picking up the Best Emirati Black Belt Award.
During the season, Al Ketbi won gold and silver at the World Games in Poland before clinching double gold at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games at Indonesia.
Meanwhile, there was a double celebration in the Al Hinaai household. Sisters Maha and Mahra, won the Best Emirati Purple Belt Player of the Year and Best Emirati Blue Belt Youth Player of the Year awards. After a busy campaign, even they cannot remember how many medals they won this season.
“We don’t really count how many medals we have because there are so many,” said Maha, 18, who is a member of the UAE national team. “It’s an amazing feeling to win this prestigious award because it shows you can be rewarded if you work hard. We were both nominated last year but finished second. Inshallah, hopefully we can win again in the future.”
For Igor Silva, he picked up two personal accolades. The Brazilian topped the world rankings to win the Best Player of the Year and South American Player of the Year respectively having won a tally of 18 medals (13 golds, three silvers and two bronzes).
Silva finished ahead of Adam Wardzinski in the world rankings but despite the latter losing his 94kg final at the World Pro on Saturday, he still walked away with the Best European Player of the Year award thanks to his 16 medal tally (eight golds, six silvers and two bronzes).
“It was a tough and busy season for me but the organisation of the UAE competitions are really high in standard,” said the 27-year-old. “It was just a pleasure to compete during the season and it’s great to be part of this. It was a fantastic season for me and to be the top-ranked European athlete while also finishing runner-up in the world rankings. I’m now looking forward to the next season.”
Meanwhile, UAE-based Larissa Paes clinched the Female Player of the Year accolade after a dominant 10 months which saw her claim 19 medals (11 golds, six silvers and two bronze).