Al Fadhli feel­ing no ex­tra pres­sure as he de­fends JJIF ti­tle at home

The National - News - - SPORT - AMITH PASSELA

Omar Al Fadhli says he feels no added pres­sure of per­form­ing in front of his home crowd as he pre­pares to de­fend his jiu-jitsu ti­tle at the JJIF World Cham­pi­onship start­ing in Abu Dhabi this week.

Al Fadhli, 19, made history when he became the first Emi­rati to win gold in both the youth and adult di­vi­sions in the World Cham­pi­onship in 2017 and 2018 re­spec­tively.

The Emi­rati is in good shape for the world cham­pi­onship, be­ing held in the cap­i­tal for the first time from Novem­ber 16-24, fol­low­ing vic­to­ries over Brazil­ians Thi­ago Gon­calves and Gio­vanny Do Nasci­mento at the Al Ain Pro In­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­onship last month.

“I want to just go there and do the job, that’s what I al­ways be­lieve in,” Al Fadhli told The Na­tional.

“For me it is all the same whether I com­pete abroad or at home at any level. I don’t want to put pres­sure on myself by think­ing that I have a ti­tle to de­fend... I al­ways want to do the best on what I do ev­ery day, whether it’s a com­pe­ti­tion or train­ing.”

Al Fadhli re­vealed a rig­or­ous train­ing regime. Since sign­ing a pro­fes­sional con­tract with Palms Sports, the tech­ni­cal arm of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Fed­er­a­tion, last year, the teenager trains six days a week which in­cludes dou­ble ses­sions in the morn­ings and evenings.

“To be able to do what I love most, full time, is amaz­ing,” he said. “Even be­fore be­ing of­fered a con­tract I had made up my mind to make jiu-jitsu a full-time ca­reer and when I re­ceived this of­fer it re­ally was a bo­nanza for me.

“It’s my full-time job. The train­ing rou­tine is the same for me but the sched­ule can change when I’m with the na­tional team camp. But all the same, I en­joy what I do.

“I want to achieve more for my coun­try and me, pro­vided I keep healthy. I am al­ways ready for com­pe­ti­tions whether it be a world cham­pi­onship or any other.

“In com­bat sports one needs to be on top of the game all the time and against ev­ery op­po­nent, be it an es­tab­lished one or a new­comer.

“There is no guar­an­tee of a win in this sport be­cause the com­pe­ti­tions have reached a level where there are no clear favourites. This is the beauty of this sport.”

This year’s world cham­pi­onship will, for the first time, com­bine both the youth and open cat­e­gories to­gether across the nine days with more than 1,500 fight­ers set to com­pete from 69 coun­tries.

The cham­pi­onship gets un­der­way with the pre­lim­i­nar­ies of the Un­der 18s and U21s from 9am on Fri­day with the open­ing cer­e­mony slated for 3pm. The main rounds of the youth worlds for both men and women will take place over the next two days fol­lowed by the mas­ters, para jiu-jitsu, team cham­pi­onship and the open di­vi­sions.

Khush­num Bhan­dari for The Na­tional

Omar Al Fadhli is the first Emi­rati to win gold in youth and adult di­vi­sions at world cham­pi­onships

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