Fans stand up to applaud Belarusian sambo wrestler
Belarusian Stepan Popov wins under 74kg sambo gold at 1st European Games in Baku, after demonstrating ‘fair play’
In the final struggle against Azerbaijan’s Amil Gasimov, the Belarusian realised a strong hold while enduring a painful leg hold from his rival. The wrestlers’ faces demonstrated great discomfort, but Stepan’s hold proved stronger. The Azerbaijani finally conceded and was found not to be able to walk properly, which placed Stepan in a difficult position. However, the audience was soon chanting: ‘Belarus! Belarus! Belarus!’
Stepan carried his opponent out of the hall to the training zone and, later, helped Gasimov walk to the awards ceremony: a sight that conquered audiences’ hearts. Stepan notes that injuries are common from such holds, and all sportsmen are ready to help each other, being ‘brothers in the world of sambo’. “I suffered similarly during the World Championship,” he explains.
Stepan Popov captured gold in the under 74kg category, while Amil Gasimov claimed silver. Interestingly, Amil is the current world champion and Stepan is a European champion.
By Kirill Pirogov