Both rings were in action again with bouts taking place from 13.00 into late in the evening, starting with the 45kgs divisions and finishing with the giants of the 91kgs+ .
The women’s divisions are proving to be a tight contest with yesterday Sweden taking three wins, Morocco two but other teams like Poland, host nation Belarus, Turkey, Peru, Russia, Finland, USA , Israel, France and Thailand also claiming victories. Women in three divisions – 51, 54 and 60 – are chasing the coveted IFMA gold but also for the first time a place on the IFMA The World Games squad.
Antonina Shevchenko was in action for Peru at 63.5kgs, following in the footsteps of her older sister Valentina Shevchenko who was nine times IFMA world champion. Moroccan champion Maryam el Moubarik also advanced in the 60kgs division.
Many teams who have already qualified athletes for this huge tournament have proudly added The World Games logo to their national uniforms. And of course everyone would like to add more. Some of the already qualified athletes like IWGA Athlete of the Year Sofia Olofsson, Sweden have not attended at Minsk in anticipation of the event which takes place in just 12 weeks time.
In the men’s divisions host nation Belarus pulled out all the stops in their efforts to claim the team prize. Bolstered by the home crowd – who at times almost drown out the two live Thai orchestras sitting ring-side – they claimed spots across the divisions. Two of their already qualified athletes – Dmitry Valent and Vital Hurkou – took The World Games mascots for a muaythai lesson with Dmitry gallantly taking Gretel under his wing. (See IFMA Facebook for the video)
But once again smaller teams like Latvia, Hong Kong, Mexico and Peru claimed victories as well as Russia, Turkey , Kazakhstan and Iran. The Mexican athletes once again came prepared with beautiful garlands of flowers for their athletes to wear into the ring while doing the ritual Wai Khru dance to open each bout. Mexico will host the IFMA Championships 2018 and were happy to claim victory for Genano Comex in the 57kgs competitive category.
The Best Support contest is also heating up with Russia, Turkey , Belarus and Morocco possibly leading the way while Iran, Lebanon and Iraq are bolstered by expat support. Belarus loaded up today with queues forming in the evening when people came to the city centre venue after work.