By: Vinay Siwach
HAMMAMET, Tunisia (June 30) -- Senegal dominated the men's Beach Wrestling competition at the 2nd African Beach Games, securing three out of the four gold medals.
Led by African Beach Wrestling and Senegalese Wrestling champion Modou FAYE (SEN), Senegal claimed gold in the 80kg, 90kg, and +90kg weight classes but missed out in the 70kg category, where Gibriel CHOW (GAM) denied the country a cleansweep.
Senegal won the team title as well with 95 points while hosts Tunisia finished second with 57 points. Kenya finished a close third with 49 points.
Faye, who had already won the African Championships in May in the men's +90kg division, emerged victorious in the gold medal bout against Hemza HALOUI (ALG), defeating him 3-0.
But that was not the only bout in which Faye did not give up a point. Whether it was Daniel MOSETI (KEN) in Round 1 or Mohamed SAADAOUI (TUN) in the semifinals, no one was able to score on him during the tournament.
In the group stage, Faye secured a 3-0 victory over Haloui in Round 3, but both wrestlers qualified for the semifinals as they finished 1-2 in the group. While Faye triumphed over Saadaoui in the semifinals, Haloui won 1-0 against Progress BENSON (NGR).
In the final, Haloui failed to pose any significant challenge to Faye, as the Senegalese wrestler won the gold and continued to make his mark in Beach Wrestling this year.
Earlier in June, Faye made his world debut in the Beach Wrestling World Series in Singapore, reaching the semifinals and eventually winning a bronze medal. Despite a strong performance, Faye narrowly missed out on a spot in the final, where he came close to defeating world champion Mamuka KORDZAIA (GEO).
Faye made the mistake of touching his knee on the sand, resulting in points being awarded against him on two occasions. However, he quickly adapted his approach, launching clean attacks and taking a 2-2 lead on criteria over Kordzaia with less than 30 seconds remaining. Faye successfully defended against Kordzaia's desperate attack and countered with his own takedown to secure the victory.
It was only after Kordzaia challenged the call, and after a review, Faye's knee brushing the sand resulted in a point being awarded to Kordzaia. In Beach Wrestling, the first wrestler to reach three points is declared the winner.
Faye's impressive performance in Singapore solidified his status as one of the strongest competitors, leaving a lasting impression on the fans. His experience in Senegalese Wrestling enabled him to effortlessly defend against attacks on his legs.
Another standout performer for Senegal was Siny SEMBENE (SEN), who remained undefeated in all four of his bouts in the 90kg round-robin bracket, securing the gold medal for Senegal.
Sembene's first victory came against Machiel GROBLER (RSA), whom he defeated 3-0 in Round 1. He followed this with a dominant victory via fall over Sabri MNASRIA (TUN) in Round 3.
Mark ONGUYESI (KEN) was the only other unbeaten wrestler and he faced Sembene in Round 4. But he suffered the same fate as the others, losing 3-0. Sembene was crowned champion after Zakaria BENAREZKI (ALG) withdrew from the fifth round due to an injury sustained in his bout against Onguyesi in Round 3.
In the 80kg category, Ngor NIAKHE (SEN) staged an impressive comeback to defeat Bacar N'DIUM (GBS) 2-0 and secure the gold medal for Senegal. Niakhe had previously lost to N'dium in the group stages.
Eight wrestlers competed in the 80kg weight class, divided into two groups. Niakhe faced N'dium in Round 1, resulting in a 1-1 tie decided on last-point criteria.
However, Niakhe rallied and emerged victorious by fall against Anthony WESLEY (CPV) in Round 2 and Chawki DOULACHE (ALG) in Round 3, qualifying for the semifinals against Mathayo MAHABILA (KEN). He defeated the Kenyan wrestler with superiority to reach the final.
In the final, Niakhe showcased solid defensive skills, preventing N'dium from scoring any points. With a two-point lead, Niakhe maintained his advantage to secure the gold medal, just two weeks after winning bronze at the Singapore Beach Wrestling World Series.
With the victory over N'dium, Niakhe also avenged his loss from the African Beach Wrestling Championships final which was won by N'dium in May.
To prevent Senegal from winning all four gold medals, Chow delivered a strong performance to defeat Ya NDONG (SEN) 3-1 in the 70kg category.
Chow's journey to the final included victories over Mahmoud MEDJADBA (ALG) in Round 1 (3-1), Mohamed ZORGUI (TUN) in Round 2 (4-0), and John LEOPOLD (MRI) in Round 3 (3-0), securing the top spot in the group standings.
In the semifinals, Madi LATUF (COM) posed a challenge to Chow, scoring two points and coming close to victory. However, Chow executed a remarkable throw and won by fall (5-2), advancing to the final against Ndong, who had defeated Zorgui in the other semifinal.
In the final, Chow clearly outperformed Ndong, clinching the gold medal with a 3-1 victory over the African champion.
GOLD: Gibriel CHOW (GAM) df. Ya NDONG (SEN), 3-1
BRONZE: Mohamed ZORGUI (TUN) df. Madi LATUF (COM), 3-0
GOLD: Ngor NIAKHE (SEN) df. Bacar N'DIUM (GBS), 2-0
BRONZE: Mathayo MAHABILA (KEN) df. Khaireddine BEN TLILI (TUN), 4-2
GOLD: Siny SEMBENE (SEN)
SILVER: Mark ONGUYESI (KEN)
BRONZE: Sabri MNASRIA (TUN)
GOLD: Modou FAYE (SEN) df. Hemza HALOUI (ALG), 3-0
BRONZE: Mohamed SAADAOUI (TUN) df. Progress BENSON (NGR), 3-2