ABU DHABI // Alyazyah Al Shehyari is one match away from claiming her first international gold in jiu-jitsu.
The Emirati teenager, labelled as a potential future champion, breezed through her preliminary-round contests at the inaugural Abu Dhabi World Youth Cup, for girls from 10 to 17 years, at the IPIC Arena last night.
She will meet Alexia Paiva of Angola in the blue-belt juvenile 61.5 kilogram final on Saturday.
“I am just glad to be in the final,” said Alyazyah.
“I have to face another tough opponent in the final but I am ready for it.
“This is the moment I have been waiting for the last four years and my objective remains the same. That’s to win the gold medal.”
Alyazyah is undefeated in the 2015/16 domestic season.
It is her third appearance at the Abu Dhabi event after winning two bronze medals in the two previous appearances at the Abu Dhabi Kids World Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
She had to pull out from last year’s competition after suffering an injury on the day before the event.
Alyazyah made a bright start in the World Youth Cup, winning her opening fight in under 90 seconds with an arm-lock against May Mahmoud.
She went even better in the next, winning in under 10 seconds with a choke on Thamne Al Derei.
The Grade 11 pupil from Al Shahama Girls School was then taken the full distance by Khawla Manta before winning it on points 6-0 in the semi-final.
“I know these girls quite well after competing against them in the local tournaments,” she said.
“It may have looked easy from the outsider but they were all tough fights.
“Nothing is easy in this sport. You have to be alert and prepared to handle any kind of surprises to win.”
Alexia, too, had to negotiate three fights against Emiratis Yara Saket and Hasa Al Mazrouei, and Noellie Cosi of France.
“This is my second time in Abu Dhabi and looking forward for another gold medal,” she said.
“The fights that I had to go through were much harder than last year now that the competition itself elevated as the World Youth Cup.”
Another Emirati to impress was Asma Al Subaihi.
She got the better of Tyler Kawana of Australia 3-0 on points to reach the blue-belt juvenile 66.5kg final.
“She was around 10 pounds heavier than me and was over me as soon as the fight started,” she said.
“I scored off a sweep and half-guard and then preserved the lead until the end.
“I was getting very tired but still managed to get her pinned to the mat in the last two minutes of the contest.
“That two minutes was like a good 10 minutes for me.”
The Emirati sisters from Al Ain, Maha, Mahra and Hana Al Hanaei returned with mixed fortunes.
Mahra overcame Aneta Pokorna of Poland to advance to the final in the green-belt 54.5kg final, but disappointment was in store for her older sibling, Maha, who went down to compatriot Maitha Abdulla (3-0) in the blue-belt 56.5kg semi-final.
Hana, the youngest, had to settle for a silver in the grey-belt 34.5kg final, beaten by Meera Al Rashedi.
It was their third meeting and the latter has won all three times.
Forty finals were completed Sunday night, with the Emirati girls claiming 31 gold while Egypt, Great Britain, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, and United States grabbed one each.
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