It was a sensational second day at the Singapore Sports Hub as the first Kings and Queens of Asian sand were coronated. The podiums welcomed some old favourites with Ukraine, Georgia, Romania and Azerbaijan picking up medals of all colours, but it was the newcomers who made the biggest impression with Cambodia, China and Senegal all winning medals as they made their sandy circle debuts.
With the group stages finished it was time to get down to the business end of the leg and as always, the eliminations rounds provided plenty of drama and entertainment as the sun shone brightly on the superstars of sand. The last chance to grab what could be all important ranking points to qualify for the ANOC World Beach Games in Bali gave the latter stages a little bit more edge.
The Princess of Power, Stefania PRICEPUTU (ROU) has dominated the women’s 50kg division and is another step closer to a third consecutive Beach Wrestling World Series title as she came from behind in the final against Samnang DIT of Cambodia. Dit issued a challenge after Priceputu had been awarded a point for downing her opponent to go 2-1 ahead but with the challenge losing, Priceputu was given the extra point and victory was secured. China picked up their first medal of the day in the bronze medal match with Xiaomin XIE defeating Argentinian Maia CABRERA.
A second medal of the day wasn’t long in the waiting for the Chinese team as Yue ZHANG repeated her group stage win over Romania’s Elena Simona IONESCU in the semi-final of the women’s 60kg division before stunning Ukrainian Anastasiya KRAVCHENKO in the final. The Chinese newcomer secured a 3-point finish as she landed Kravchenko on her shoulders after 1 minute 40 seconds. Kravchenko challenged the call but lost, giving ZHANG a 4-1 win and the gold medal. There was further disappointment for Ionescu as she lost the bronze medal match to Ukraine’s Daria MEDVESTSKA who bounced back from her semi-final defeat to Kravchenko to take third place.
Having missed out on the first leg in Argentina, Team Ukraine made sure they would make up for lost points across all weight divisions. In the women’s 70kg they were guaranteed a 1-2 as Olena NIKITINSKA and Oksana HERHEL contested the final. Herhel took home the gold with a stunning performance that saw the 28-year-old athlete take only 41 seconds to seal the gold medal. Frenchwoman Manon KURY, who lost out to Nikitinska in the semi-final, made sure she was going home with a medal as she edged out debutant Bea MEIRING (RSA) who can be happy with her first ever Series outing finishing fourth.
Catalina AXENTE is the reigning +70kg women’s world champion and the rampant Romanian shows no intention of giving up her crown. She roared back in the Lion City after failing to make it into the knockout stages in Buenos Aires to take victory. Having qualified from the groups, she defeated Spaniard Noelia LALIN CANDA in the semi before facing up against old foe Liudmyla TYCHYNA (UKR) in the final where she wrapped up the win with 10 seconds remaining. Stefania ZACHEILA (GRE) took the bronze with a win over Lalin Canda in the 3-4 match.
There was somewhat of a shock in the men’s 70kg as Levan KELEKSHASHVILI (GEO), aiming to make it four Beach Wrestling World Series championships in a row failed to make the final as he lost a close encounter with Oleksii BORUTA (UKR) 0-2 in the semi-final. The Georgian had to make do with a bronze as he defeated Japan’s Yoshiki YAMADA in the 3-4 match. That left Boruta to face off against another debutant, Shijian ZHOU of China, in the final. Both men took a bit of time to feel each other out but it would be Boruta to take home the gold with four seconds remaining in a superb 3-0 win.
The men’s 80kg division was always going to be intriguing with current Beach Wrestling World Series champion Nika KENTCHADZE (GEO) competing against the returning Vasyl MYKHAILOV. After winning the 2021 edition of the Series, the 27-year-old Ukrainian didn’t compete last year when Kentchadze took the title. Both men managed to avoid each other until the final where the Georgian secured the win, making full use of his signature shuffle to take Mykhailov out of the sandy ring. Senegal’s Ngor NIAKHE picked up his country’s first ever Beach Wrestling World Series medal, a bronze, after he defeated Hirotake ABE (JPN) in the 3-4 match.
Today’s birthday boy Dato PIRUZASHVILI returned from Argentina clutching the gold and the Georgian’s fantastic form continued on the sands of Singapore as he made it two golds from two events. Piruzashvili faced Turkey’s Mahmut Seyfi OZKAYA in the final having beaten the impressive Siny SEMBENE of Senegal in the semis. Ozyaka had ended current champion Ibrahim YUSUBOV’s quest for gold with a 3-point move and was full of confidence going into the final. However, it was the Georgian to come out on top as he scored the last point of the bout in a 1-1 tie.
Great drama unfolded in the men's +90kg category when Mamuka KORDZAIA (GEO) looked set to lose to Senegal's Modou FAYE in the semi-finals, but the Georgian launched an attack for the third point with the score at 2-2 and only 8 seconds left on the clock. The challenge was successful, and it put Kordzaia into another final. Facing the Georgian was Hungarian Richard VEGH who saw off Andrii VLASOV’s (UKR) challenge in the other semi-final match. Vegh took the lead but was unable to hold out and Kordzaia took the win by virtue of scoring the last point of the bout. Senegal sensation Faye enjoyed himself in the 3-4 match as he entertained the crowd during a challenge with some sand dancing and posing on his way to the bronze in a 4-0 victory over Vlasov.
A superb showing of skill, strength and athleticism, Singapore really had it all. Before the event it was wondered who would come out on top? Would the newcomers upset the natural order, or would the experience shine through? Given the share of the medals across experienced and debutant Wrestlers it’s safe to say the answer was a bit of both but the real winner was Beach Wrestling itself as it continues to show why it is the greatest show on sand.
It won’t be long until the sand will be flying high again as the Series makes its way back to Europe for leg three in the Cote D’Azur in France 28-29th June.
Results Beach Wrestling World Series Singapore
- Stefania PRICEPUTU, ROU
- Samnang DIT, CAM
- Maia CABRERA, ARG
- Yue ZHANG, CHN
- Anastasiya KRAVCHENKO, UKR
- Daria MEDVETSKA, UKR
- Oksana HERHEL, UKR
- Olena NIKITINSKA, UKR
- Manon KURY, FRA
- Cataline AXENTE, ROU
- Liudmyla TYCHYNA, UKR
- Stefania ZACHEILA, GRE
- Oleksii BORUTA, UKR
- Shijian ZHOU, CHN
- Levan KELEKSHASHVILI, GEO
- Nika KENTCHADZE, GEO
- Vasyl MYKAHILOV, UKR
- Ngor NIAKHE, SEN
- Dato PIRUZASHVILI, GEO
- Mahmut Seyfi OZKAYA, TUR
- Ibrahim YUSUBOV, AZE
- Mamuka KORDZAIA, GEO
- Richard VEGH, HUN
- Modou FAYE, SEN
Find the complete results here.