The World Games mascots Hansel and Gretel have been visiting with us here in Croatia for the European Championships, and they bravely hopped over the ropes yesterday for their first experience of muaythai!
Eleven athletes who succeed at this EMF/ IFMA championships qualify for some of the final berths at The World Games in Wroclaw, Poland next year. They will join muaythai athletes from all over the world, many of whom already qualified at events like the IFMA World Championships in Sweden earlier this year.
Hansel and Gretel have been spending some time getting to know our boxers, and our federation heads. They went to the EMF meeting with the federation representatives.
They were very friendly and posed for photographs with everyone. Hansel said he was so excited to meet the people who will come to his hometown, especially when Rafal Szlachta from the Polish Federation made a presentation about the plans for the event.
But Gretel was a little bit bored at the meeting, she said what she really wanted to do was see the fights! So first IFMA general secretary Stephan Fox and Rafal gave them a short lesson, explaining the main techniques.
And then every afternoon the adventurous pair have been joining us at the Gripe Arena – of course they cheered very loudly for Poland, but as they are such good ambassadors for The World Games they also cheered for the other countries.
And yesterday after the final bout, Gretel dragged Hansel into the ring. You could tell immediately they both had been paying lots of attention to the fights, as they were familiar with some of the most well-know muaythai moves.
Hansel has a very good roundhouse kick, especially from the right-side which is great. And Gretel was able to use her elbow very well – a little too well Hansel said (we think he was a bit afraid of her!)
They also both did a Wai Khru, the ritual dance from Thailand which all our athletes do before they fight as a mark of respect for their instructors.
We asked the Polish coach if they need any more athletes, but unfortunately he said their team is already full.
Hansel said he’s super-excited now to see muaythai in Wroclaw next year, and he will tell all his friends to come along. And Gretel? Well it was very hard to get her to leave the ring, and she only came home when we promised she could come again for the finals on Saturday.
They are both very excited about this, because eleven of the medal winners will come to The World Games 2017. So onto the finals!