63 athletes from 12 nations took part in today’s opening round of match-ups, with 31 female and 32 male competitors all vying to take home the gold from the leg, with others eyeing up the bigger overall prize of Beach Wrestling World Champion when the sand settles tomorrow night.
In the women’s 50kg there were double wins for Justine Fanny VIGEROUX (FRA) and Yuliia ZASULSKA (UKR), the latter beating home sand favourite and potential series winner Emine CATALOGLU (TUR) in her second bout after both had won their opening match. The Princess of Power, Stefania PRICEPUTU (ROU) is still missing due to injury.
The women’s 60kg saw Daria MEDVETSKA (UKR) continue her good form with two wins from two, and Mehlika OZTURK (TUR) also picked up two good wins, beating Ukrainian Anastasiya KRAVCHENKO and German Andrea GRASRUCK who was injured in the process.
Oksana HERHEL (UKR) has missed the last two Beach Wrestling World Series events, but she wasted no time in getting back to her best in the women’s 70kg as she won her opening two matches in under 2 minutes in total. First beating Adina Ionela IRIMIA (ROU) in 1 minute 3 seconds and then taking only 51 seconds to beat Slovenian Sara TRBULIN. Compatriot Olena NIKITINSKA was the only other woman to win her first two matches in the division.
Eliana BOMMARITO (USA) made history in Romania when she secured the USA’s first ever senior gold medal in the Beach Wrestling World Series, and ‘The Bomm’ looks to have gold in her sights again as she picked up two wins without dropping a point and is well placed for the knockout stages.
The men’s 70kg welcomed back Levan KELEKHSASHVILI (GEO), after he missed the event in Romania. The three time Series champion got back into his groove as he won his first two bouts. Oleksii BORUTA has been sensational this year, and he also made it 2 from 2 for the event as he beat Azerbaijani Ramiz HASANOV and popular French athlete Quentin STICKIER.
Iran always produce good wrestlers, and they may have another up and coming star in the Men’s 80kg as Hossein Ali ABBASPOURREIKANDEH picked up two wins on his debut in the sandy circle, as did Frenchman Hugo Jose Fabien CUENOT. There were also wins for home sand stars Muhammed AKDENİZ and Mehmet Can DASDEMIR.
Ibrahim YUSUBOV is the current men’s 90kg champion, and it looks like it will take a big effort to take his title away from him as the Azerbaijani picked up two first day wins, booking his place in the knockout stages. Yusubov beat Oleksii YAKOVCHUK (UKR) in his opener before a second win over Ashkan Hossein AZIZI (IRI). Mahmut Seyfi OZKAYA (TUR) got the home sand fans on their feet with a win over one of the glorious Georgians, Davit KHUTSISHVILI, but came up short in his second bout, losing to Hadi Bakhtiar VAFAEIPOUR (IRI), who also won his first bout. Khutsishvili bounced back from that disappointment to pick up a win of his own over Dogan KAYA (TUR).
For the third leg in a row Turkey’s men’s +90kg Series Champion Fatih Yasarli has faced the Big Gun Oyan NAZARIANI (AZE) in the opening match of their group stage phase, and for the 3rd leg in a row it’s Yasarli who picked up a 1-0 win. He then all but secured his passage to the knockouts as he beat Efe Anil AL (TUR) in his second bout. Nazariani dusted himself down to smash home a 5-0 win over USA’s Gabriel Carlow RANGEL. Mamuka KORDZAIA (GEO) is also in contention for Beach Wrestling World Series gold, but he will have to improve to take home the gold. He won his after a defeat in his second bout against Iranian Mohammad Ebrahim ALITABARFIROUZJAH.
It's all still to fight for, and tomorrow, when the sand settles for the season, we will see who comes out on top as both the winners of the individual legs receive their gold and after 5 amazing legs of Beach Wrestling, we coronate the 2023 Beach Wrestling World Series Kings and Queens.
Watch live on the Beach Wrestling World Series YouTube channel tomorrow from 11:30 am local time (10:30 am CEST) for all of the last day’s action if you can’t be Sandside for it as the greatest show on sand comes to an end for this year.