At Friday’s 2018 Asian Games held in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta, the UAE won two gold and three silver medals in the mere space of an hour.
One of the championship’s big winners included Mahra Al Hanaei, who took home a silver medal on the opening day of the competition, following a spar against Cambodian native Jessa Khan in the women’s 49-kilogram jiu-jitsu final. The mixed martial arts fighter had previously beat out Vietnam’s Thi Thanh Minh Duong by a whopping 14-0 in the semi-finals.
The 17-year-old hails from a family of award-winning fighters. Along with her sisters Maha and Hana, the Al Hanaeis have been breaking barriers in women’s jiu-jitsu one strike at a time. All three sisters are medal winners; Hana, who is the youngest of the three, took home a silver medal in her debut at the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Festival earlier this year, while Mahra has won gold in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour in London, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro. Maha, the eldest of the three, has yet to return from any tournament empty-handed.
Maha and Mahra took up jiu-jitsu over six years ago when the combat-based sport was first introduced at the Mariam bint Sultan Girls School in Al Ain through the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s Schools Program. Since then, the sisters would go on to win a number of tournaments and join the UAE national team.
Other athletes representing the UAE at the Asian Games to win the top prize include Ali Al Anjawi, who won the Jet Ski Runabout Limited and jiu-jitsu fighter Hamad Nawad. Khalid Iskander Al Balushi, who limped away from the mat after injuring himself at the Jakarta Convention Centre against his fellow national teammate Nawad, was awarded a silver medal for his efforts. Meanwhile, Talib Al Kirbi provided the UAE with its third silver medal after coming up short in the men’s 69kg in the 18th edition of the annual competition.