By Kirill Pirogov
The 15th jubilee tournament for the self-defence art of sambo gathered over 200 wrestlers: from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Georgia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and South Korea — with few participating for the first time. In recent years, the event has significantly jumped in the ratings and, since 2008, has enjoyed the status of being a World Cup round.
The Russians and Belarusians were viewed as favourites, with the event recognised as one of the most important of the season before the qualifications for the world and European championships begin. The Belarusian team was strong, with only famous Andrey Kazusenok absent (resting after a recent judo tournament). Our supremacy was proven by the tournament’s results, with 14 medals claimed. There were five gold medals — taken by Andrey Kurlypo (under 52kg), Igor Sedoy (62kg), Stepan Popov (74kg), Magomed Abdulganilov (82kg) and Alexander Vakhovyak (over 100kg). A further five silver and four bronze were forthcoming, earning us first place over all, followed by Russia and Kazakhstan.
The Head of the Belarusian Sambo Federation, Vladimir Yaprintsev, noted after the tournament that he hopes to see sambo join the Olympic programme at some future date. “Sambo is already included in the programme of the next Universiade, in Kazan, and at the military world championships. Sambo demonstrations are to be organised for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi — which is already an achievement. After the 1988 Games in Seoul, taekwondo received Olympic status and judo joined the Olympic family after the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Anything is possible,” stresses Mr. Yaprintsev.