A loud passionate crowd gathered sand-side as the Series touched down on South American sand for only the second time ever. The venue at Vicente Lopez in bustling Buenos Aires was buzzing and provided a stunning backdrop as the superstars of sand got underway on what was a superb start to the 2023 edition. With ANOC World Beach Games ranking points on offer for the second last time, as well as the chance to set their stall for the year was all the motivation needed and it wasn’t long before the sand started to fly.
Stefania PRICEPUTU (ROU) and Emine CATALOGLU (TUR, 50kg) picked up where they left off from last season by both winning their opening two bouts. No doubt looking to put down a marker to the rest of the field. Debutant home sand star Maia CABRERA (ARG) was also celebrating two wins from two bouts much to the delight of the brilliant Buenos Aires crowd.
Italy’s Francesca INDELICATO (60kg) made her return to the sandy circle for the first time since winning the 2021 edition and it was a mixed bag for the 28-year-old wrestler with a win and a defeat, the loss coming to Victoria BAEZ DILONE (ESP). Baez Dilone, Veralucia SUSANO JUSTINIANO (BOL) and Elena IONESCU (ROU) all picked up two wins in their two openers.
Defending champion Adina IRIMIA from Romania (70kg) got her title defence off to a fine start with two wins. Colombian newbie Paula MONTOYA GARCIA also made a strong start, winning a prelim bout before picking up another two wins as the fast-paced action continued.
Ecuador’s Veralucia SUSANO JUSTINIANO and USA’s Eliana Rose BOMMARITO caught the eye in the women’s +70kg division with wins in 13 and 17 seconds respectively. Reigning champion Catalina AXENTE (ROU) looks like she’s in no mood to relinquish her title though as she battled to two wins from two.
The glorious Georgians have had a firm grip of the men’s divisions in the Series since its inception and current triple World Champion Levan KELEKHSASHVILI started his quest for a fourth 70kg title with an opening two wins suggesting that the grip may be as strong as ever. Ramiz HASANOV (AZE) and Yunus COSKUN (TUR) also started their seasons with back-to-back victories.
Nika KENCHADZE (GEO) came out on top of the world in the 80kg division in 2022 and he was straight back to winning ways in Argentina taking only a combined total of 35 seconds to win his opening two bouts. American Tyler LOETHEN picked up a pair of victories as he looked to assert himself; and Hirotaka ABE, who alongside his Japanese team-mates had flown 31 hours to take part, also notched two wins from two.
The men’s 90kg title was Baku bound last season as Ibrahim YUSUBOV took home the gold and the Azerbaijani will be happy with his opening leg of this year’s series as he won both of his bouts; as did Georgia’s David KHUTSISHVILI and compatriot Dato PIRUZASHVILI. There was also an opening two wins for Hungary’s Patrik PUESPOEKI.
In 2022, the men’s +90kg was dominated by Fatih YASARLI from Turkey and Georgia’s Mamuka KORDZAIA with the pair taking all the golds between them; and both have Argentinian gold in their sights with both men not losing a point in their first two bouts. The Big Gun, Oyan NAZARIANI (AZE) made his full comeback from injury that saw him miss the majority of last year and he will be looking to improve on a win and a loss in today’s outing, his defeat coming to the impressive Venezuelan Jose Daniel DIAZ ROBERTTI who also picked up a win in his opener to make it two wins in two on his Series’ debut.
What a return to action and what a place to make it. The excellent crowd and amazing vibe that you only get from a Beach Wrestling World Series event combined with superb athleticism, strength and stamina from the superstars of the sand were in full flow today and we can’t wait to see how the action unfolds as a few more coronations are carried out for the first Kings and Queens of 2023.