Even more awards could have been taken
Over the past three years, the Belarusian team has won the overall standings at the World and European championships. This year, it has already been placed first at the continental team tournament. With good reason, fans anticipated another success at the World Championship, being hosted, as is traditional in early December, in Thailand (the homeland of this sport). It gathered a record number of countries (over 90) and athletes (1,000) with our Belarusians winning seven adult medals, including five gold: by Yekaterina Vandarieva (under 54kg), Yelena Muratova (57kg), Alla Ivashkevich (60kg), Marina Kalinina (71kg) and Dmitry Valent (75kg). As a result, the women’s team came first in the overall standings. Meanwhile, Vandarieva was acknowledged the best sportswoman of the World Championship (first time in the history of Belarusian Muay-Thai).
Sadly, there was also a negative aspect to the contest, with Belarusian fans and squad coaches convinced that the judges were being biased. Perhaps tired of being placed second (after Belarus), the hosts ensured that the prestigious trophy — a large silver cup for the overall winning team — remained at home this year. In a number of fights featuring famous Belarusian athletes (whose advantage seemed obvious), the judges voted for their rivals, causing an emotional reaction from fans. Appeals by the team’s heads fell on deaf ears.