Some of the youth graduates at their first Elite level event!

IFMA tournaments work on a pyramid structure with a broad base of youth athletes and is now showing fruits as they graduate to competing at elite level. It’s a proud moment for IFMA to see them taking their place competing with their heroes here in Prague.

Over ten years IFMA made grassroots development their most important task done by separating the senior and junior world championships. This innovate has received praise from many in the world of sport.

Elisa Salinas, IFMA Vice-President and chair of the IFMA Youth Commission said that the youth world championship is the base we all stand on for the future  – if you want to predict the future you must shape it today.

The IFMA youth championships combines muaythai with culture and sporting exchange workshops on fair play  – especially doping and ethics but also the athlete’s career programme. The sessions aim to show the youth that love for the sport must go with education. As we like to say; a healthy body means a healthy mind.

Now there is a clear development pathway for the Youth. Any student who continues on the way to higher education, can now look forward to university events like this month’s FISU muaythai world championships in Pattaya, Thailand. And one day hopefully too the Universaide.

Just turning 18 now they and the younger athletes could compete at The World Games 2021 in Birmingham,  or entering the SEA Games and Indoor Asian Martial Arts Games.  And they can also look forward to The World Combat Games and being in the same arena as the Olympic sports.

All of these events are under the Olympic flag, giving them important support and funding at the national level, and the chance to proudly wear the national colours and carrying their national flag.

The Youth of today is part of an IOC-recognised sport and organisation  – if you look at the sporting success, you can see a healthy transformation from the Youth World Championships – putting an immediate threat to the senior division. This shows the healthy development of the sport  and that the years of cooperation between the clubs and the national federations the sport Ministries, the NOCs and IFMA have one common goal. T

That is to ensure health, safety and education of the athletes  – and to ensure that every athlete can pursue their dreams within the Olympic family.

We asked some of the “graduates” what they think about being here in Prague.

Teresa Moreira silver medallist at the Youth in 2017 for Portugal said she’s enjoying the tournament. She had a great bout earlier in the tournament but unfortunately didn’t advance. She said: “Some of them are at a different level of experience, I can see that but it’s good to be here. I lost this time, but I’ll be back next year with more experience too!” Team-mate Joanna Alverez is still at youth level, and happy that the Championships include some older youth bouts so she too can see where she will be next year.

Eduard Saik (Russia) won bronze at the Youth last year, and yesterday won his opening bout here in Prague. He said he’s happy to be at the same event as the older athletes, and is enjoying spending time with athletes he usually only sees on TV.

His team-mate Ildot Ismonov won gold at the 2016 youths, and said he’s hoping to repeat that here in Prague. This is his first senior tournament; he also won his opening bout here.

And Ovsep Aslanyan is the third Russian athlete competing at senior level having graduated from the Youth. He has yet to fight, but says he’s looking forward to seeing what the competition is like.

Hungarian athlete Patrik Szana won gold at the Youth championships in 2016, brozne in 2017 and (update) competes this week in the final of his division. He said he’s so excited to see the athltes he knows, eat with them and he thinks now they’re not so untouchable now he knows he can compete with people like Vital Hurkou (Belarus) and Jimmy Vienot (France).

From Ukraine, Oleksandra Pecheniuk is 19 now and a former Youth champion. She has now competed in two senior Worlds – this year in Mexico and in Minsk in 2017. She also won her opening bout here in Prague yesterday.

Full results are available on  IFMA Live  and the programme with venue details etc is on EU Muaythai Prague.

Bouts start at 14:00 daily and can be watched on the IFMA Youtube channel.

Follow IFMA on IFMA Instagram EMF Facebook and IFMA Twitter for more photographs and videos updates!

Find out about the Harley Davidson 115 celebrations.