Muay Thai World Championships 2012
|Written by IK on 26 October 2012|
Eighty countries and nearly 2000 people: athletes, coaches, press and officials, travelled to stunning Saint Petersburg for the IFMA 2012 World Championships.
This year’s World Championships were special for two important reasons. Firstly, they were the official test event for the 2013 SportAccord World Combat Games, which are held under the patronage of the IOC. The World Combat Games include the fifteen world-recognised martial arts, five of which are Olympic (judo, taekwondo, boxing, fencing, wrestling) and 10 of which are non-Olympic — Muay Thai being one of them. As the test event, venues, hotels, transportation and administration were all evaluated, to ensure that next year’s World Combat Games are a success.
Second, the World Championships was also the first official qualifier for the World Combat Games. Australia travelled with a forty-person strong delegation, athletes coming from all over Australia to participate in this historical championship.
The President of Muay Thai Australia, Mr Tony Favuzzi, said that the Australian team was well prepared. Head coaches Richard Walsh and Alan Wong stated that the level of the athletes at the competition really included the best of the best, especially from Thailand, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Sweden, Canada and many more. As an example of the talent present, Thai Fight superstar and Thai Champion Kem (Pakcotakang Surasak) lost in the semi-finals to Belarus, showing the elite skill on display.
Australia had a very difficult draw. In the 57kg female division, Laura Bowman had a tough fight against Finland, and then lost a close point decision against the silver medal winner of the competition from Belarus.
Melissa Walsh had a gruelling first round against Belarus, winning on points, and then in the semi- finals, met American champion Lindsay Scheer. It was one of the most spectacular fights in the female division, and Melissa made it to the finals. However, she could not defeat Sweden for total victory. Well done, Australia for a silver medal in what was probably one of the strongest female divisions of the championships.
Gareth Rees stopped Slovenia in the first fight, and then had a very close fight against the European champion from Belarus. Gareth lost by a very close point decision, but gained a lot of respect for his efforts.
In the Junior Division, Blake Johnson, Triston Roach, Mark McNaught, Charlie Bubb, Philip Tyquin and Drew Etherington all participated with great success.
It was not your ordinary World Championship. There were so many events within the event, such as the Executive Board meeting, daily referee meetings and courses, the Annual General Meeting, final bidding for the upcoming World Championships, and much more.
WMC Vice President and IFMA General Secretary, Mr Stephan Fox, who is one of the key players in the set-up of the SportAccord World Combat Games, said that many important decisions were made during the nine days in Russia. Some of those included Malaysia winning the bid for the 2014 World Championships, the official change in round timing, from four rounds, two minutes each — to three rounds, three minutes each. There was also the re-election of Mr. Karim Massimov, the Prime Minster of Kazakhstan, as the Asian President, final decisions on IFMA female uniforms, chaired by Mrs Sue Latta from New Zealand, as well as all the continental meetings, including the meeting of the Oceania Muay Thai Federation.
In the overall competition, in the end it came down to a very close head to head. Russia won the overall team trophy, Thailand regained its position as best male team, which they lost last year to Belarus, and Sweden won the best female team. The trophy for Best Boxer of the event went to Andrei Kulebin from Belarus. Australia won an important honour, as all the referees voted for Mr Elias Dolaptsis as the Most Outstanding Technical Official during the games.
Upcoming: Australia will be hosting Muay Thai in the Arafura Games in May. Incheon, Korea will host the Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games, Saint Petersburg will host the SportAccord World Combat Games, and Myanmar will host the Southeast Asian Games. Get ready, 2013 will be packed with events.