The atmosphere was electric, and the French Wrestling Federation had brought along schoolchildren from their development programme to see the sand superstars show exactly what is needed to succeed in the rings. Their youthful enthusiasm and cheering adding to that special atmosphere you only get sand side at the Beach Wrestling World Series.
67 superstars took to the sand, and it didn’t take long until the sand started flying as the watching crowd drank in the sheer strength, determination and athleticism.
Emine CATALOGLU (TUR) has been unfortunate that Stefania PRICEPUTU (ROU) has been almost unstoppable in the woman’s 50kg but with the Princess of Power missing out on this leg the opportunity was there to stake a claim on the gold and make up some Series ranking points. She got her 3rd leg off to a flying start with two wins from her opening two bouts. Home sand superstar Justine VIGEROUX also opened her Series leg with double wins.
The Ukrainian pair of Daria MEDVETSKA and Anastasiya KRAVCHENKO are always amongst the favourites in the women’s 60kg for their dynamic styles and they were matched against each other in the opening match of the groups. It was a close-run fight but it was Kravechenko that had just that little bit too much for her compatriot and took the win 1-0. To her credit Medvetska bounced back in her second visit of the day as she beat fellow Ukrainian Sofiia KUSHNIR to give her a chance of reaching the elimination rounds tomorrow. Aurore CABANNE (FRA) also shone on the first day as she took two wins.
Following up in fine fashion from her gold in Singapore, Oksana HERHEL (UKR) started this leg with a 3-1 win over countrywoman Anna POSHTAR in the women’s 70kg. This was followed up with a close 3-2 win over home crowd favourite Manon KURY as she looks to have cemented her place in the elimination stage. She was joined on two wins from two by a trio of athletes as Olena NIKITINSKA (UKR), Mathilde Evelyne GUEDON (FRA) and Agoro PAPAVASILEIOU (GRE) who will all be happy with their day’s work.
Liudmyla TYCHYNA (UKR) tasted defeat in the women’s +70kg in Singapore last time and it seems to have acted as motivation for the Ukrainian as she ended day 1 in France with two opening group stage wins. First, she took care of Stefania ZACHEILA (GRE) within 2 minutes 30 seconds of the scheduled three minutes before taking only 27 seconds to secure the win over fellow Ukrainian Taisia HEHA. Zacheila showed that she is a contender for the medals as she bounced back from her defeat to Tychyna to get the victory over her compatriot Aikaterini Eirini PITSIAVA in a close 1-0 win.
The opening group match of the men’s 70kg division saw the gold medallist from leg 1 in Buenos Aires face the gold medallist from Singapore as Levan KELEKSHASHVILI (GEO) took on Ukrainian Oleksii BORUTA and Boruta took the win in a hard-fought bout. Kelekshashvili bounced back with a win in his second bout and Boruta’s fine form continued with a second win of the day over Maksym SHKOLNIAK (UKR). Younus COSKUN (TUR) and Ramiz HASANOV (AZE) can be proud of their day’s work as well as both men opened their campaigns with two from two.
The biggest shock of the day came in the men’s 80kg where one of the Golden Georgians, Nika KENTCHADZE lost his second bout of the day when he lost out 3-2 to Moldovan Vasile DIACON having won his opening bout. Diacon also impressed in his opening bout where he defeated American Hunter GARVIN and now looks a certainty to qualify for the elimination rounds. Vasyl MYKHAILOV (UKR) has impressed since his return to the Series in Buenos Aires and the 2020 Champion looked in great form on Cousteau Beach as he picked up two wins in a combined time of just over two minutes.
The men’s 90kg saw defending champion and ANOC Beach World Games qualifier Ibrahim YUSUBOV (AZE) pick up an opening win over Singapore gold medallist Mahmut OZKAYA (TUR) on his way to two day 1 wins and there was also somewhat of a shock as Dato PIRUZASHVILI (GEO), who has reached the past two finals, lost his second-round group match to Demid KARACHENKO (UKR).
In the men's +90kg category, two legends of the sport faced each other in the opening bout for the second stop in a row and for the second time in a row it was Mamuka KORDZAIA (GEO) who prevailed over "The Big Gun" Oyan NAZARIANI (AZE) with the same result as in Singapore (1-0). Both men would go on to win their second matches of the day. Defending champion Fatih Yasarli (TUR) also got his 3rd leg campaign off to a flying start with two wins from his opening two bouts.
A fantastic start in France with thrills, skills and shocks a plenty and it all points to a memorable second day in St. Laurent Du Var where the first Kings and Queens of the European legs of the World Series will be coronated.