International recognition for fair fight

Sambo wrestler Stepan Popov awarded Fair Play Award for spirit of fair competition

Sambo wrestler Stepan Popov awarded Fair Play Award for spirit of fair competition

The Fair Play awards ceremony took place on 15th October in Budapest. Mr. Popov tells us, “It’s a delight to receive this award. Many people approached me and congratulated me, saying that my wrestling has excited all sports fans. They asked about Belarus and they were interested in Sambo. This award is the first in the history of our sports, so people are glad not only in Belarus.” He continues, “Sambo is a contact sport. No one wants to surrender, so you endure almost until you faint. During the European Games, when the final round pressure was high, alongside fans’ emotions, there was a lot at stake. Certainly, I’m thrilled to receive this award.”

Stepan Popov during awards ceremony

The Executive Committee of the Fair Play international organisation has chosen Belarusian sambo wrestler Stepan Popov for the diploma, for his fair play. There were 49 candidates, from over twenty countries, nominated: under the nominations ‘Gestures of Fair Play’, ‘Fair Play Principles Promotion’, ‘Career-Style Fair Play’, and ‘Youth’. Following voting, the Executive Committee identified the top 32 for trophies, diplomas and letters of congratulations.

Stepan Popov, from Lepel, was initially nominated by the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus, with support from the International Sambo Federation and Belarusian Sports Press Association. Mr. Popov demonstrated fair play in the final match (under 74kg) of the first European Games in Baku. From the first seconds of the fight, it was clear that Stepan was stronger than his rival, Amil Gasimov, from Azerbaijan. Stepan immediately took the lead, although his opponent managed to even the score. Eventually, he used a submission lock to gain victory but helped his defeated and injured contender to leave the mat.

Triple Olympic wrestling champion Alexander Medved and European table tennis champion Vladimir Samsonov are also holders of Fair Play awards.

By Kirill Karin
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