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Countdown to France as Beach Wrestling World Series arrives in Europe

June 21, 2023
France 2023
The third leg of the 2023 season will take place in stunning St. Laurent du Var on Cousteau Beach.

It’s the third year in a row that the Series has visited Saint Laurent Du Var and it’s easy to see why. It provides a beautiful backdrop and combines the famous French flair with that special Beach Wrestling vibe to create an event that’s always a memorable stop on the tour. With the ANOC World Beach Games on the horizon, this is the last opportunity for competitive preparation before the Games kick off in August.

The last two stops have seen an influx of debutants to the Series as it broke sand in South America and Asia which have elevated the Series, and although stop 3 will see fewer new faces, there’s still one or two dark horses who could emerge from the pack to leave with the gold. The home nation is expected to have a strong team on home sand, and the likes of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine will be hoping to be in the mix when it comes to the medals being handed out.

© Mihai Stetcu - VIGOUROUX Justine of France compete against CATALOGLU Emine ofTurkeyduring the first day of the third stop of the UWW Beach Wrestling World Series at Saint Laurent du Var, France on July 01, 2022.
© Mihai Stetcu - Yulia KREMEZNA MALYK of Ukraine compete against Olena NIKITINSKA of Ukraine during the day two of the third stop of UWW Beach Wrestling World Series at Saint Laurent du Var, France on July 02, 2022.

With Stefania PRICEPUTU (ROU) missing out on this leg of the women’s 50kg, there’s an opportunity for last year’s Series silver medallist Emine CATALOGLU (TUR) to play catch up on points with gold on her mind after missing out on a medal in Singapore. The Ukrainian pair of Daria MEDVETSKA and Anastasiya KRAVCHENKO (60kg) also missed out on the win in the last leg picking up a bronze and silver respectively and you wouldn’t guess against them being around the medals this leg either.

Oksana HERHEL (UKR) will hope her gold in Singapore is the start of a run that could see her take overall Series gold in the women’s 70kg but compatriot Olena NIKITINSKA and the Greek Agoro PAPAVASILEIOU may well have her in their sights as they also aim for victory. The women’s +70kg is always a competitive division and this time should be no exception. Liudmyla TYCHYNA (UKR), Aikaterini PITSIAVA and Stefania ZACHEILA (GRE) are just three of the athletes who could stand out in St. Laurent du Var. 

© Chee Minh Geh - Nika Kentchadze (R) of Georgia and Vasyl Mykhailov (L) of Ukraine (80kg men) during the final day of the second stop of the UWW Beach Wrestling World Series at Singapore Sports Hub, Singapore on June 11, 2023.
© Chee Minh Geh - Mahmut Ozkaya (R) of Turkey and Dato Piruzashvili (L) of Georgia (90kg men) during the final day of the second stop of the UWW Beach Wrestling World Series at Singapore Sports Hub, Singapore on June 11, 2023.

In the men’s 70kg Oleksii BORTUA was unstoppable in Singapore as he took home the gold; and the Ukrainian grappler surely has his eyes set on a second win in a row, but he’ll face stiff opposition as reigning 3-time Series champ Levan KELEKSHASHVILI (GEO) has yet to taste gold in 2023, which will be something he wants to change and quickly. Another Georgian with golden ambitions is Nika KENTCHADZE in the men’s 80kg who is looking for his third gold of the year as he looks to wrap up the title as quickly as he can. Ukraine’s Vasyl MYKHAILOV looked good on his return to the sandy circle in Singapore where he finished with a silver; but the 2021 champ will want to be at the top of the podium when the sand settles on Cousteau Beach.

It promises to be a close-run affair in the men’s 90kg with the Azerbaijani reigning World Champion Ibrahim YUSUBOV, the impressive Mahmut OZKAYA (TUR) and Georgian pair of David KHUTSHISHVILI and Dato PIRUZASHVILI all vying for the top spot. It was Piruzashvili who came on top in Singapore, but will he be able to take home the win again or will someone else top the table at the end of the leg?  Mamuka KORDZAIA has been in fine form in the men’s +90kg winning the opening two legs. Can he make it three in a row or will the other two big names in the division, ‘Big Gun’ Oyan NAZARIANI (AZE), and current champion Fatih Yasarli (TUR) stop the big Georgian’s gold run and start one of their own?

The answers to the questions above will soon be given when the sand starts to fly on the 29th – 30th June. If you can’t be sand side enjoying that beautiful Beach Wrestling atmosphere watch live on the Beach Wrestling YouTube channel.

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