Dubai, 23 March 2018: European freediving world champions are set to go head-to-head in the Open Category while Emirati divers are aiming top place finish in the GCC category of the 12th edition of Fazza Championship for Freediving, organised by Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Saturday, March 24.


Hamad Al Rahoumi, Head of Fazza Championship Diving Committee, said that this year’s tournament would be another record breaking one. “We have gathered some of the world’s best freediving champions,” he said.


Croatian freediver and 5-time Fazza champion for freediving Goran Colak, 34, set the pace in the qualifying round held on Thursday by holding his breath underwater for 10min 31sec to break his personal best of 10min 19sec set last year.  He said he is aiming to hold his breath for at least 11 minutes in the final round.


“I recorded my personal best (10min 31sec) in the Fazza Championship on Thursday and I’m expecting to do better in the final round to lift the trophy but I expect a very tough completion from my compatriots and other world champions,” Colak said.


Colak was followed by his compatriot and Croatian national team member Veljano Zanki who clocked in 9min 27sec. The winner in the 2016 Fazza championship Branko Petrovic of Serbia came in third during the qualifying round with 8min 37 sec.


Croatian diver Budimir ?obat, who broke last month the Guinness World Record for longest time to hold breath underwater, held his breath for 8min and also qualified in the final round together with Andrej Ropret and Polish diver Mateusz Jan Malina .


Emiratis set to dominate

Emirati divers are also aiming to finish strong in the National and GCC categories.


Four-time 1st place winner Nasser Obaid Al Rizzi, 37, from Ajman said he is setting his pace for the final round and settled with a comfortable 4min 20sec qualifying time.


He said: “I’m preparing my mind and preserving my strength for the final round. I’m aiming to stay underwater for at least six minutes. In the past seven years, I have finished first on four editions of the competition and settled second three times.  I expect strong competition from Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia but I’m ready to defend my title on home soil.”


Al Rizzi started freediving as a hobby then turned pro in 2009. He is also a champion falconer and is very active in promoting various Emirati heritage sports.


Kuwait’s Hassan Ali Al-Sharah set the highest qualifying time in the GCC category with 6min 32sec. Oman’s Ibrahim bin Abdullah Al-Sulaitani came in second with 6min, followed by another Omani diver Khamis Bin Abdullah Al-Arimi with 5min 40sec.


In the Youth category, Emirati Suhail Hashim Al Marzouqi clocked in the best time with 2min 48sec, followed by Abdulrahman Hussain Al Marzouqi (2min 39sec) and Hamad Al Marzouqi 2min 14sec)


Heritage sport

The Fazza Championship for Freediving is a heritage sport designed to embody the traditional ways of diving in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf. Divers do not use any tools or underwater equipment but rely instead on traditional diving techniques used by early mariners in the UAE and the region.


A large number of participants coming from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Poland, Ukraine, the Netherlands and others European countries took part in the qualifying round on Thursday.