Up to 1,100 muaythai athletes and teams from 79 countries have converged on Bangkok this week for the opening of the IFMA Youth Worlds. It’s the highlight of the year for the young athletes who take this just as seriously as our older athletes took The World Games 2017 last week.
Some teams like New Zeland and Peru have been in Thailand for a few days or even weeks doing some training, while others like the UK and Russia flew in last night and this morning.
In spite of the long journeys and apprehension about the up-coming tournament, spirits were high as the teams registered at the main hotel. IFMA aims to have as many as possible of the athletes staying in one hotel, and this is where the weigh-ins, medical checks and various meetings take place.
Chair of the Medical Commission Dr Erdogan Aydin from Turkey said everyone arriving today had the correct paperwork and was fit and ready to box. Athletes are divided by age and within that bracket divided by weight category; this secures safety for all in the ring during competition.
Many of the athletes spoke to IFMA after they weighed-in. Micheas Essenberger from Peru said he is going for gold and determined to repeat his gold of last year. The members of the female team for The Philippines are here for the first time, and hoping to make new friends as well as taking part in their bouts. See IFMA Facebook for video.
Tomorrow a final weigh-in takes place for anyone arriving late this evening, and the Opening Ceremony is at 19.00 in the National Stadium, Bangkok.