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Reem Al Falahi ready to throw down at next level in jiu-jitsu

posted on 21/04/2015: 1770 views

Reem Al Falahi, widely regarded as a future Emirati champion, is ready to begin her new journey.

Falahi, 16, won her fourth gold medal in four years on Monday at the Jiu-Jitsu Children's World Cup, which was her last before stepping into the women's open class.

Al Falahi was impressive in three fights in the blue belt 61.5-kilogram weight division on the opening day of the jiu-jitsu extravaganza at the Zayed Sports City's IPIC Arena.

"It has been a fantastic four years for me at this level and I am confident I can take my game to the next level and be successful as I was in the children's division,” Al Falahi said.

"I have now spent seven years in the sport and during this period I have learnt to be patient, watch every movement of my opponents and have more tricks under my sleeve during a contest.

"That doesn't mean I have not stopped learning, though, now that I'm moving to a level where I have to compete against experienced and stronger opponents in the adults division.

"It will be a new experience but I am very excited and looking forward to that day when I compete in the open class.”

The first day of girls' competition in the Children's Cup saw 41 gold medals won, 36 of them by Emiratis.

Maha Saleh Al Hinai, 16, from Al Ain won her first gold in the blue belt 56.5kg after finishing runner up last year.

"I was nervous at the beginning but when I got on to the mat all that was forgotten,” she said.

Al Hinai, a bronze medallist for the UAE Junior national team at the American Kids National Championship last October, had three fights but said the second against her colleague Asma Al Shamsi from Al Ain was the toughest.

Filippa Koski, 16, made her trip all the way from Sweden worthwhile by winning the gold in the blue belt 51.5kg.

"It was an amazing experience for me to fly down to Abu Dhabi and win,” she said.

"I never came across a competition that drew nearly 1,000 competitors and I am really amazed how much jiu-jitsu was popular among the Emirati girls. They were terrific and highly competitive.”

Madeleine Depagnier, an American teenager living in Al Ain for the past four years, bagged her first gold in the green belt 46.5kg.

"My dad practised the sport and he encouraged me to get started two years ago. I don't know for how long I am going to continue but I am enjoying every moment of it,” she said.

There were a few yesterday who left disappointed, such as Asiya Doty, a 10-year-old American who travelled from Qatar and was left in tears after her first-round exit.

"I've been training jiu-jitsu four years and this is my first competition,” she said. "I was sad when I lost but that was only at the moment. I feel good and want to return next year.” – The National -


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