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Stunning Saint-Laurent-Du-Var Doesn’t Disappoint as the Greatest Show on Sand Returns to Europe for the Beach Wrestling World Series' Second Leg

June 28, 2024
France 2024
The much anticipated second leg of the Beach Wrestling World Series saw the greatest show on sand back on European beaches after the first leg back in March in magical Mexico wrapping up a spectacular first day.

54 of the world’s best beach wrestlers from 15 nations turned up the heat as day one got underway in stunning Saint-Laurent-Du-Var, and it didn’t take long before the white sand started flying.

In the women’s 50kg Ukrainian Yuliia ZASULSKA and her compatriot Viktoria SLOBODENIUK both won their two opening bouts to put them in a good place heading into Saturday's elimination matches. Home-sand favourite Justine VIGOUROUX had a noisy backing as she picked up a first match win over Argentina’s Claudia CABRERA despite having to stop briefly due to a nosebleed but was denied a double for the day when she lost to Team USA’s Mariah ANDERSON.

Having picked up the bronze medal in the women’s 60kg division in Mexico, Ukraine’s Anastaysia KRAVCHENKO was hoping that she could continue with the momentum she built back in March’s opening leg. Her good form did continue as she opened her second leg with 2 wins from 2, overcoming Spaniard Victoria BAEZ in her opener before a tremendous 3-point move saw her defeat the returning 2021 champion Francesca INDELICATIO (ITA), who made her re-entry into the sandy circles after a two year absence. Slovenia’s Mihaela CIRIC also impressed on her debut with 2 wins from her opening 2 matchups with victories over Sofiia BORDINSKYKH (UKR) and Lilou DUPINAY (FRA).

Reigning women’s 70kg World Champion Oksana HERHEL (UKR) missed out on Mexico but returned to the sandy circles to face Paula Aurelia Izabela ROTARU (ROU) in her first bout since picking up the title in Turkey last year. She will be disappointed to have started with a loss as ROTARU took the win, courtesy of scoring the last point in a 2-2 match. Though eventually, she ended the day on winning terms as she picked up a win against Mathilde Evelyne GUEDON (FRA) in her second match, giving her a good chance of making the elimination rounds on Saturday. Lydia PEREZ TOURINO (ESP) looks like she could challenge the champ after the Spaniard picked up the win in both of her opening matches with a double Ukrainian defeat — firstly beating Viktoriia HRYTSENKO, then Olena NIKITINSKA to finish the day unbeaten.

American Eliana BOMMARITO took the women’s +70kg World Championship crown last year and “The Bomb” looks like she doesn’t want to part with it any time soon as she smashed her way to an opening-day pair of wins. First off defeating the popular home-sand hero Angelique GONZALEZ of France, and then another 2022 competitor returning to the sand in Iryna PASICHNYK (UKR). GONZALEZ however, bounced back with a win of her own over teammate Marine Anne LE COUR GRANDMAISON (FRA) and Pasichnyk had won her opener over LE COUR GRANDMASION earlier in the morning to leave both on 1 win from 2.

© Jaoua Henry - 60kg Women's BW - Anastasiya Kravchenko (UKR) df. Maria Victoria Baez Dilone (ESP) in Saint-Laurent-Du-Var, France, on June 28, 2024.
© Jaoua Henry - 70kg Women's BW - Lydia Perez Tourino (ESP) df. Viktoriia Hrytsenko (UKR) in Saint-Laurent-Du-Var, France, on June 28, 2024.
© Jaoua Henry - 60kg Women's BW Sofiia Bordinskykh (UKR) in Saint-Laurent-Du-Var, France, on June 28, 2024.
© Jaoua Henry - 50kg Women's BW - Viktoriia Slobodeniuk (UKR) df. Claudia Soledad Cabrera (ARG)in Saint-Laurent-Du-Var, France, on June 28, 2024.
© Jaoua Henry - 70kg Women's BW - Dimitra Androutsou (GRE) df. Paula Aurelia Izabela Rotaru (ROU) in Saint-Laurent-Du-Var, France, on June 28, 2024.

The men’s categories didn’t fall short of action, and Oleksii BORUTA (UKR) was another of last year’s champions who was opening his 2024 Beach Wrestling World Series account today. It was a great start to the defence of his men’s 70kg title as he picked up 2 wins that should see him into the elimination rounds, beating German Valentin SEIMETZ in his opener in the morning before a second win in the afternoon session over Stefan Ionut COMAN (ROU). Team USA’s Justin BENJAMIN made history in Mexico as he became the USA’s first-ever male gold medallist, and the American showed the confidence that a first gold can bring as he beat crowd favourite Quentin STICKIER of France on his home sand. He would get a little reminder that it’s not all plain sailing however when he lost to Azerbaijani newcomer Rashid BABAZADE in the afternoon session. 

There was a huge cheer when men’s 80kg World Champion Hugo CUENOT (FRA) took to the sand for the first time since his victory in Turkey last year saw him clinch the title, and he gave them even more to cheer for in his morning session match against Ramiz HASANOV (AZE) as he ran out a 3-0 winner over Hasanov, who challenged the last point but to no avail. It was a bit of a shock to then see him lose his second match of the day to Greece’s Christos CHRISTOFORIDIS who will compete in his other 2 matchups on Saturday. Moldova’s Vasile DIACON did have 2 matches today and he will be resting up ahead of the elimination rounds happy with his work as he picked up wins in both against Miljan RAJIC (SRB) and Alberto MARTINEZ NAVARRO (ESP).

Azerbaijan’s Ibrahim YUSUBOV has been a dominant force in the men’s 90kg division with a Beach Wrestling World Series silver in 2021 and back-to-back golds in 2022 and 2023, and after today’s performances we could be looking to add 2024 to that list as he wasted no time in winning his 2 matches. It took the amazing Azerbaijani a combined total of 71 seconds to wrap the wins up, his first coming v Mathis Damien Leon MAYRAND (FRA) in just 42 seconds and his second saw Georgios TSAKNAKIS (GRE) put to the sword after only 29 seconds. Oleksii YAKOVCHUK (UKR) also doubled up on wins although he was slightly slower than YUSUBOV, taking a full minute and 10 seconds to defeat compatriot Demid KARACHENKO in his opener, then 28 seconds against Eugeniu MIHALCEAN (MDA).

In the men’s +90KG division Mamuka KORDZAIA (GEO) got his 2024 series off to a winning start as he edged out Team USA’s Kyle FERRITER in the opening bout of the division winning 2-1. He then cemented his place as the favourite for the leg win as he picked up a second win in the afternoon session finishing off Italian Alessio Salvatore VANDI with a 3-point move having already been 2-0 ahead. FERRITER for his part, bounced back having led 2-0 and then been pulled back to 2-2 got the win in the last 10 seconds as he pushed Quentin Michel Arthur MILLIERE (FRA) out of the ring to pick up a 3-2 win.

A thrilling beach wrestling day on Cousteau beach was even more exciting with the event doubling up as an attraction at the CAP 3000 Beach Sport Festival. French schoolchildren taking part in the national beach wrestling tour in conjunction with the Wrestling for Earth initiative came along to watch the action and take part in a little taster session themselves between the morning and afternoon sessions, adding to the fun of the day.

Here's hoping for more of the same athleticism, determination and spirit on show in the elimination rounds on Saturday where the second leg Kings and Queens of the sand will be coronated. Can’t be there sandside? You can follow all the action from 10am local time on the Beach Wrestling World Series live stream, @uwwbeachwrestling on Instagram for more behind the scenes, and follow the results on


© Jaoua Henry - 70kg Men's BW - Rashid Babazade (AZE) df. Justin Douglas Benjamin (USA) in Saint-Laurent-Du-Var, France, on June 28, 2024.
© Jaoua Henry - 80kg Men's Hugo Jose Fabien Cuenot (FRA) df. Ramiz Hasanov (AZE) in Saint-Laurent-Du-Var, France, on June 28, 2024.
© Jaoua Henry - 90kg Men's BW - Traian Capatina (MDA) df. Mathis Damien Leon Mayrand (FRA) in Saint-Laurent-Du-Var, France, on June 28, 2024.
© Jaoua Henry - 70kg Men's BW - Quentin Jean Rene Sticker (FRA) df. Ivan Semenov (UKR) in Saint-Laurent-Du-Var, France, on June 28, 2024.
© Jaoua Henry - Introduction to the practice of Beach Wrestling in Saint-Laurent-du-Var, 28 June, 2024.
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