Gold Al Balooshi with assured performance
Tuesday morning belonged completely to Al Balooshi
From persisting with Jiu-Jitsu despite his parents' concerns about the physical toll that the sport would inflict on him to consistently tackling bigger and heavier opponents, Hamad Eissa Al Balooshi does it all with a big smile on his face. The 23-year-old won the Gold medal for the UAE National Jiu-Jitsu Team on Tuesday, getting the better of his Kazakh opponent Ildar Zainalov in the final of the56 kg category of the Para Jiu-Jitsu competition at the Ju-Jitsu World Championship 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
The Ju-Jitsu World Championship 2019 has been organised by the Ju-Jitsu International Federation (JJIF) and is hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation at the Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi. The World Championship which commenced on 16 November will run till 24 November.
Tuesday morning belonged completely to Al Balooshi. With a buoyant Mubadala Arena packed full of supporters vociferously chanting for the local athlete, Al Balooshi began confidently, effecting a couple of smooth rolls and locks to open a six-point lead with more than three minutes on the clock. He followed it up with an excellent defensive display to seal the win and the title. "I have competed against Ildar before and though he is heavier than me, I think I have an idea about how to approach the bout. Today, I knew I had to make an aggressive start and put up points quickly and I am happy to have stuck to the plan," says Al Balooshi. "Competing in Abu Dhabi is fantastic, the spectators with all their encouragement really give me a big boost. The experience of making the UAE proud by winning a Gold in front of all your people is incredible," he says.
Having begun with Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 12, Al Balooshi said that the sport is now a very integral part of his life. "I am thankful to this sport for giving me so much and for teaching me several important lessons. Apart from my physical fitness, the sport has immensely helped my mental conditioning. It has allowed me the chance to continuously strive for success, whether on the mat or off it. The biggest positive though is that this sport grants me the chance to proudly wear the UAE flag on my heart and raise it high on the mat," he says.
Studying for a bachelor's degree in media studies at Abu Dhabi's Higher College of Technology, Al Balooshi says that his special connection with Jiu-Jitsu very nearly did not happen. "I first used to play football, but I was always on the sidelines. I wanted to play something where I was solely responsible for my performance and that's the reason, I picked up Jiu-Jitsu. My parents weren't very happy with my decision to practice this sport. They thought I would get injured and hurt myself. The first couple of years, it was quite a struggle to dodge my parents and continue my Jiu-Jitsu training," he chuckles.
However, continued and consistent success on the mat has brought about a change of heart. "My parents are really happy for me and are very proud of me because of all the success I have had on the mat. Even today, I had members of my family and friends in the stands to watch me compete and cheer on my every move. I am just glad that I am getting the chance to practice a sport that I truly love and keep challenging myself," he says.
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