The Beach Wrestling World Series is back as we hurtle towards the first stop where the greatest show on sand gets back underway on Sarigereme Beach in outstanding Ortaca, Turkey. Not only are there world champions, former world champions and familiar faces from the sand circuit, but also wrestlers who are taking part in the series for the first time, as well as some competitors from countries that are completely new to the series in 2022.
Sarigereme Beach in the Ortaca district of South-West Turkey with its pristine sands is a stunning venue to launch this year’s edition. Having hosted the 2018 world championships, this is the first time the beach has hosted a World Series stop.
It is the strongest line-up of athletes so far with 103 wrestlers registered for the event from 20 countries, including for the first time Burundi, Ivory Coast, Hungary, India, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Senegal, Sudan and Tajikistan; it promises to be quite the opener as the quest to be the kings and queens of the sand get underway.
First up is the woman’s division where Stefania PRINCEPUTU (ROU, -50KG) will be looking to get the defence of her title off to a winning start. Having had a clean sweep of the weight class last series, capping off a fine season with victory on home sand in Constanta. Emine CATALOGLU (TUR) has her eye on dethroning Princeputu and with a strong home sand crowd behind her could it be her time to shine? There are also Beach Wrestling World Series debuts for India and Hungary in this division as Neelam NEELAM (IND) and Blanka RECZI (HUN) take to the sand.
With neither current world champion Francesca INDELICATO (ITA, -60KG) nor Anastasiya KRAVCHENKO (UKR) in attendance for this one, the stage is set for another of our sand superstars to top the 60KG leaderboard. Denisa Iuliana FODOR (ROU) and Mehlika OZTURK (TUR) will be amongst the favourites but there will be a number of debutant countries and athletes in this weight class as wrestlers from the Ivory Coast, Hungary, India and Madagascar are welcomed to the series. Will one of these newcomers be a breakthrough star? That is to be seen when the sand starts to fly!
Asli TUGCU (TUR, -70KG) earned a bronze medal at the World Championships on Mamaia Beach to end the 2021 Series and she will be aiming for gold on home sand in front of her compatriots and she is joined by Vahide Nur GOK and Yagmur CAKMAK in representing Turkey in this weight class. Like the 60KG division there are a few debutants as Anta SAMBOU (SEN), Viktoria FELHO (HUN) and Sonika HOODA (IND) make their first Sandy Circle appearances in the Series and they will be hoping to challenge for medals and ranking points to show they mean business.
In the women’s +70KG reigning World Champion Catalina AXENTE (ROU) is back to start the defence of the title she won in Constanta where she will face stern opposition from Aikaterini Eirini PITSIAVA (GRE) and Beste CIVELEK ALTUG (TUR) in this opening leg of the series but will also be wary of the challenge from the debutants such as Amy YOUIN (CIV) and Kulwinder Kaur SAMRAO (IND) who will be hoping to make an impression of their own on the sands of Sarigereme.
Over to the men’s, the golden Georgian, back-to-back World Series Champion Levan KELEKHSASHVILI (-70KG) has triple World Series Championship Gold in his sights as he returns to the sand looking to retain the form that has saw him dominate the division. It won’t be an easy task as he could come up against stiff opposition from the always dangerous Azerbaijani contingent, this leg made up of Rubali IBRAHIMLI and Huseyn ALIYEV. There could also be challenges from Israel NIYONKURU (BDI), Jaideep JAIDEEP (IND), Fakhireldin Antar Obaid SORIEN (SUD) or Muhammadjon NAIMOV (TJK), all of whom will be the first athletes from their respective countries to represent in the World Series.
In the -80KG division, World Series bronze medallist Omid Abdolali KAMALIAGHDAM (AZE) will be one of the favourites to take home the gold if he can continue his impressive form that saw him finish in 3rd place in Constanta but Quentin STICKER (FRA), the Georgian duo of Zurabi ERBOTSONASHVILI and Nika KENTCHADZE and Christos CHRISTOFORIDIS (GRE) will have golden ambitions of their own. As with all the weight divisions this season, there are also have debutant countries entering athletes with Assane Alexis BALLO (CIV), Csaba VIDA (HUN), Pradeep PARDEEP (IND), Augustine FLOMO (LBR), Aime Mbolalalaina Joel RAKOTONIAINA (MAD), Mamadou DIOUF (SEN) and Somonjon IKROMOV (TJK) all hoping to be in the mix come the business end of the leg.
Having already becoming the 2019 King of the Sand, and finishing as silver medalist in the 2021 edition of the series at -80KG, Georgian Davit KHUTSISHVILI makes the step up in weight to the -90KG division and you can be assured that the glorious Georgian will have the top spot in his sights however he will face tough opposition from Ibrahim YUSUBOV (AZE) who took home gold for the last series event of 2022 and will be hoping to build on that victory as he looks to take the top spot himself. Muhammad INAM became Pakistan’s first ever Beach Wrestling World Series Gold medallist in last years series with victory in Rome and the 2018 World Champion will be looking to bounce back from disappointment in Constanta and getting his series off to a winning start. Will it be a familiar face who takes home the gold or will one of the debutants emerge as a dark horse to take home the gold as Hungary, India and Sudan all have competitors in this division.
It was Georgian Mamuka KORDZAIA who became World Champion at +90KG once the sands had settled at the end of the last series. Despite losing an epic final match to ‘The Big Gun’ Oyan NAZARIANI (AZE) in Constanta, KORDZAIA had earned enough ranking points to take the overall World Series title back to Georgia and he will be looking to start the defence of that title with a win in Ortaca. NAZARIANI himself will be itching to re-claim the World Series title having lost out by only 2000 ranking points last time out. Loic Dimitri SAMEN (FRA) returns after his Beach Wrestling debut at the World Championships and there are also debuts for Sahil SAHIL (IND) and Fakhod ANAKULOV (TJK).
It promises to be an amazing opening leg of the Beach Wrestling World Series full of throws, thrills, and spills for the beginning of the campaign on stunning Sarigereme Beach. if you can’t be there in person then watching the live stream is the next best thing as all of the action is available right here on the website.