The first muaythai athletes ever to win gold at The World Games stepped on the podium today after an exciting day of competition for men and women at Hala Orbita in Wroclaw.
Athletes competed for gold and silver, with bouts known as ‘box-off’ for the bronze medal between the losers of each semi-final.
IWGA Athlete of the Year and 2016 IFMA world champion Sofia Olofsson was in the ring at 54kg facing World Champion Valentyna Drozdova from Russia. This was a huge bout for both women, and was a very technical contest with both trying to work the outside using long-range body kicks and following with long punches. In the 3rd round Sofia switched to knees, closing and marking off the ring, and took the win on points. Valentyna said afterwards she was disappointed but will be back again.
In the 60kg female division Russia was up again and this time took the gold when Svetlana Vinnikova defeated Gia Winberg from Finland. Both women have different styles with Svetlana favouring punches and long-push-kicks while Gia prefers the punches.
And in the 51kg bout, the winner was Bui Yen Ly from Vietnam who won with a stylish series of high-kicks and again used push-kicks to dominate – it was clearly the move of champions today!
In the men’s divisions Ukraine did very well taking three gold, one silver and a bronze medal. Igor Liubchenko took gold at 63.5kg which was a return to form after taking bronze at the World Championships in May – prior to this he won gold at every The World Games qualifying event for IFMA.
And in 75kg Vasyl Sorokin took silver but only after a tough contest with former world champion Vital Hurkou from Belarus. Hurkou became The World Games champion by attacking from the opening bell and with fast combinations of body-punches from the left, and in-close knee-work which scores well when it’s a clean shot.
Turkey’s Ali Dogan won the first ever gold for Turkey at elite level for men in the 81kg division, and as he said afterwards it was all the more sweet for winning at such a huge event. He fought Belarus champion Mikita Shostak. A great result for Turkey, and Mikita is young and will come again for sure.
It’s been a great experience for IFMA athletes in Wroclaw.
Chair of the Athletes’ Commission Janice Lyn spoke at a press conference this morning on behalf of every one here.
So some disappointments in the ring, but overall a positive experience for everyone. And we are all certainly looking forward now to 2021 and the next The World Games in Birmingham, USA!