Saint Petersburg, Oct 26, 2013: After nine days of intense competitions, the 2013 SportAccord World Combat Games have come to an end. The last competitions of today were in Fencing and Wushu.
This second edition of the World Combat Games saw hard fought battles in 15 different martial arts and combat sports, both Olympic and non-Olympic: Aikido, Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Ju-Jitsu, Karate, Kendo, Kickboxing, Muaythai, Sambo, Savate, Sumo, Taekwondo, Wrestling and Wushu, across three venues in the city of Saint-Petersburg: the Saint-Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex, the Yubileiny Sports Complex and the Arena (Spartak).
Nearly 1,400 exceptional male and female athletes from 62 different countries competed in this showcase of exceptional talent. A total of 473 medals were distributed, with host country Russia leading the total medal count by a wide margin, followed by France, Japan and the Ukraine.
Thank you to all the participants and most of all to the athletes who were impressing us with their performances and the great spirit for the last nine days.
Szasz wins gold in women’s epee for Hungary, Kruse takes the title in men’s foil for Great Britain
On the closing day of the World Combat Games, Emese Szasz (HUN) dominated the women’s epee event while Richard Kruse (GBR) succeed in men’s foil.
In women’s epee, Ana Maria Branza (ROU), Julia Beljajeva (EST), XU Anqi (CHN) and Emese Szasz (HUN) qualified for the semi-finals. Branza, the top fencer of the 2012/2013 season in women’s epee faced Emese Szasz who recently won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Budapest. The match was close with a little advantage for Branza in the beginning. Towards the end of the match, however, Szasz came back, turned the match and closed it at 15:13 to advance to the final. In the other semi-final, Julia Beljajeva, the unexpected World Champion of Budapest 2013 demonstrated once more mental and technical superiority and prevailed in a very close match 15:14 over Xu Anqi.
In the gold medal match, Szasz continued to fence concentrated and took the momentum. Being behind from the beginning, Beljajeva never found the right concept and Szasz finally took the title. It was the third medal for Hungary at these World Combat Games.
In the bronze medal match, Xu defeated Branza 15:10 to win the first medal for China in fencing at these World Championships.
The men’s foil event saw some surprises as number two seeded Andrea Cassara (ITA) and also former World Champion Andrea Baldini (ITA) dropped out in the round of 16. It was 2013 World Champion Miles Chamley-Watson (USA), Race Imboden (USA), Artur Akhmatkhuzin (RUS) and British fencer Richard Kruse made it to the semi-finals. Quite unexpectedly, Kruse stopped top seeded Akhmatkhuzin 15:10 while Imboden dominated the match against team mate Chamley-Watson 15:3.
Kruse started the final as he had finished the previous bout: highly focused and determined to succeed. Imboden tried as hard as he could but Kruse had almost always the better answer and won easily 15:4.
In the match for bronze, Akhmatkhuzin prevailed over Chamley-Watson who suffered from a leg injury, 15:12.
Emese Szasz said after winning the gold medal: “I am happy. This is not the most important competition for me, but I am happy. I lost to Julia at the World Championships in Budapest and now, with a different tactic, I could beat her. Now I am looking forward to the next three years, my goal is winning in Rio 2016. The World Combat Games were a great experience. Our small Hungarian fencing team was together the whole week and we watched sports we could never watch before, like kickboxing or grappling.”
Wushu Finals See Gold Medals Shine on China, Russia and Iran
The culmination of the World Combat Games Wushu competition offered action and drama to an enthusiastic crowd that offered cheering support to all the competitors, but especially to their own Russian stars Daria Tarasova and Muslim Salikhov. After 13 events China a took a total of 8 medals, Russia came away with 6, and Iran also won 6.
Shimmering silks and flashing swords lit up Spartak arena this afternoon as the men’s and women’s all around taolu competitions took off. Women’s events for the all-around taolu included changquan, straight sword and spear. A real battle between Russian star Daria Tarasova and the formidable Liu Xia from China was won by Tarasova by just a few hundredths of a point, and the audience erupted in wild cheers and applause.
A similar battle was fought in the women’s taiji all-around, where Indonesian star Lindswell tied with China’s Li Jianfang in taiji sword, but scored higher in taijiquan to win gold in the all-around. China held onto the gold in the men’s taijiquan all-around thanks to the power and grace of Huang Yingqi.
The men’s taolu all-around was a dramatic battle again between China and Russia, though strong performances were also seen from Hong Kong, USA, Ukraine, Vietnam, Mexico and Singapore. More cheers erupted for Semen Udelov of Russia, who displayed a regal, balletic grace and style to match his power. China’s Yu Lei was less passionate and artistic in his performance perhaps, but his technical prowess edged him ahead for the gold.
After a fanfare-filled medal ceremony for taolu, the sanda began, and again the Russian “local favorites” drove the crowd crazy with cheers and applause, filling the arena with electric energy. Most beloved was sanda king Muslim Salikhov, whose gorgeous fighting style is pure enjoyment to watch. He took control early on in his fight with the strong Canadian Nacereddine Zemmal, taking him down three times right at the start, landing hard kicks to the chest, and making one masterful takedown after another; his beautiful spinning back kick pleased the crowd immeasurably. He looked relaxed and in control from beginning to end, displaying a fighting grace and finesse that marks him as Russia’s top sanda champion. His final display for the crowd was picking up his opponent completely off the mat and dropping him with a thud just before the gong sounded ending the match.
Salikhov’s victory was made all the sweeter with 3 more Russian golds from teammates Rustam Kakraev (who beat China’s Cai Wei), Aliev Ismail (who beat Roumanian Traian Augustin), and Gadzhi Nuritdinov (beating Jesus Rafael Licet from Venezuela.) All 4 Russian fighters brought the crowd to their feet and really set fire to the entire evening. The other sanda powerhouse taking charge of the leitai was Iran, whose fighters Jafar Shirzadeh Tophraghlou and Hamid Reza Ladvar won 2 gold medals and delivered skillful performances as they vanquished their rivals.
All in all, the wushu competition offered some of the most diverse, thrilling and entertaining action at the World Combat Games, changing up displays of long and short weapons, the internal power of taiji, and world-class full contact fighting with sanda. Russian competitors who took home the gold – literally home that is – brought pride and joy to their St. Petersburg audience, who in turn supplied a wonderful energy to the events.
Olesya Kovalenko: ‘A champion is made out of character, technique and heart’
Mrs Kovalenko, the SportAccord World Combat Games ambassador for sumo, is “visiting as many competitions as possible” these days in Saint Petersburg. The Russian sumo star confesses her passion: “This is the greatest event of the year and I want to enjoy my time as much as possible.”
“I really like many competitions. Today I have been to ju-jitsu, kickboxing and wushu,” she says before underlining the “high level of the sportsmen that are taking part in these Games.” Mrs Kovalenko confirms that her season is over: “I will reappear in March 2014, now it is time to rest.”
The champion of Russia, Europe and the World is “delighted to be one of the SportAccord World Combat Games ambassadors.” Mrs Kovalenko’s message to young sportsmen is that: “A champion is made out of character, technique and heart,” values which she has undoubtely shown to possess. “These elements are the most important attributes in order to develop the spirit,” she explains.
The ambassador for sumo strongly recommends the Japanese sport because of “its beauty, shine and spirituality.” Mrs Kovalenko believes sumo “can help people to develop various virtues.” These convictions result from a successful long career winning numerous medals and, above all, sharing eternal values. —- Sportaccord