Arafura Games finally saw the first day of muaythai competition with top class athletes on the list in Darwin. Gold medalists of various continental events and world championships stepped in the ring making the muaythai competition of the Arafura Games a mini version of an IFMA World Championships.
The traditional athletes’, coaches’ and referees’ oaths started the competition with the Darwinian Rebecca Rooney promising her native crowd which filled the stadium to the top to compete in honour, respect, and fair play. The IFMA anthem followed sounding over the Darwin Convention Center and displaying the highlights of the muaythai in the past years on the big screen in the hall. One of the special moments of the event was a wai kru demonstration by the Thai team who showcased the traditional part of muaythai dating back hundreds of years to the times of ancient Siam.
Next up was the IFMA Executive Board Member Ms. Sue Glassey who took the floor to welcome the crowd to the muaythai competition and invited anyone willing to test their muaythai skills in the ring.
A fun session of pad kick took place in the ring where young Darwinians could feel themselves real muaythai athletes taking the central stage of the event. All the participants got a memorable gift bags and great experience from Arafura Games.
Thailand and Malaysia were scheduled to be the first bout of the games in 54 kg division with young blood of the Thai team Sutita Klinlookin who is only 17 coming strong against Gracie Jee Ying Hee. The bout finished with a confident win for Sutita and opponent to consider for the Australian team who will face her in the following round of the competition. Next up for Sutita is a test in the final against Yolanda Schmidt.
The next bout was the most anticipated event of the day by the local crowd as Yolanda Schmidt was the first Australian athlete to step in the ring. She was coming to the field of play accompanied by tremendous cheers from the spectatorship stands greeting and thanking them for their amazing support. She returned it to the public by a beautiful wai kru showing why muaythai is so loved all around the world for its beauty. Her opponent was the Philippino Jenelyn Olsim. Both athletes met in the Asian Championships last year but competed in different weight divisions.
In an interview before the bout both athletes said that they spent two months of intensive preparation. For Jenelyn it was a chance to reach out to her idol and it was Yolanda who kept her promise coming strong with a storm of knees and elbows adding kicks and punches along the way. Jenelyn countered with sweeps but Yolanda was very hard to stop on this day. Strong ovation from the crowd for her every move were adding power to her every kick and the referee’s decision was made in favour of Yolanda after three rounds of the bout. Still, Jenelyn’s wish for her opponent came true when Yolanda showed true sportsmanship raising Jenelyn’s hand as a sing of friendship and gratitude for the amazing fight.
The only male bout on the card was between the Ukrainian Vladyslav Mykytas and French Quentin Alhamdou in 57 kg. It was an interesting bout for many reasons as Quentin is a current European Champion while Vladislav was very close to winning gold in the World Championships in Mexico in a strong fight against a Thai opponent. The bout of the Europe’s best and world’s second best was in favour of the Ukrainian who was strong with his punches and clinch.
One of the brightest bouts of the took place between Ukrainian Viktoria Ivanets and Thai Ruchira Wongsriwo in 57 kg division. Ruchira led the score after the first round putting the victory in her pocket when Viktoria came back with a storm of kicks and knees in the second round resulting in a knock down. The bout was not meant to end in the due time with the unforeseen injury of the Thai. After the scrutiny of the referees the victory was given to Viktoria.
Next bout for Viktoria will be a stand off with history as she will face her arch-rival of 2018 Anaelle Angerville from France. It was two times that Anaelle upset the Ukrainian public winning Viktoria at the World Championships in Mexico, and pulled out a victory in Prague in the final of the European Championships.
This will be a bout to watch after Annaelle was stronger today against the Austrian muaythai legend Nina Scheucher who showed a strong will and a champion’s spirit still having to leave the competition after referees announced the victory for Annaelle.
Day One of Arafura Games 2019 is over and the race for the medals and the qualification spots of the World Games 2021 will become ever tougher with each following round. Stay tuned to IFMA media to get the first updates of the event.