Brute strength and elegant technique shared the spotlight on Day 2 of competition at the Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games, when athletes from Sumo and Wushu joined their peers from Karate, Boxing, and SAMBO at the King Saud University Arena and Sports Hall.
Always a crowd favourite, Sumo did not disappoint when its athletes entered the dohyo for the first of two days of competition. Team Ukraine lorded over the ring, taking five of the six gold medals up for grabs and claiming three silver medals for added measure.
Sviatoslav Semykras and Olena Nikitinska were victorious in the men’s and women’s lightweight division, respectively, while Karyna Kolesnik topped the women’s podium and Vazha Daiauri topped the men’s in the middleweight class. Meanwhile, Ivanna Berezovska cruised to victory in the heavyweight final. The only blip for Team Ukraine came in the final battle of the day, when Oleksandr Veresiuk had to settle for silver after falling to Georgia’s Lasha Jeladze in the men’s heavyweight division.
Sumo will return on Day 3 with men’s and women’s open-weight categories.
In stark contrast to the impressive power of the sumotori was the grace and dynamism of Wushu athletes competing in Taolu, or choreographed routines. Ziwen Wang of the People’s Republic of China put in a near flawless performance to take gold in the Women’s Changquan final, with Nepal’s Bijay Sinjali winning the men’s category.
Medals in the Daoshu & Gunshu, Jianshu & Qiangshu, Nanquan & Nangun, Nanquan & Nandao, Taijiquan & Taijijian categories will be decided on Day 3.
Spectators were also treated to the full-combat Wushu discipline of Sanda, where athletes clashed in eight weight categories (three women’s; five men’s) for a chance to advance to tomorrow’s finals. China and the Islamic Republic of Iran led the way, sending a combined seven athletes to the gold-medal bouts.
Karate wrapped up its two days of competition at Riyadh 2023 with medals awarded in six Kumite weight categories. On the women’s side, Greece’s Konstantina Chrysopoulou took gold in the -61kg, Ukraine’s Elina Sieliemienieva topped the podium in the -68kg, and a last-gasp yuko from Montenegro’s Milena Jovanovic was the decider in the +68kg final.
In the men’s Kumite, Turkey’s Omer Faruk Yurur won the -75kg, Morocco’s Mehdi Sriti took the -84kg, and local favourite Sanad Sufyani struck gold in the +84kg. Earlier this year, Sufyani was named Saudi Arabia’s male sportsperson of 2022 by the Saudi Arabia Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SOPC) thanks in part to a victorious showing at the World Under-21 Karate Championships in Korma, Turkey.
When the dust finally settled on the tatami, however, it was Team Morocco that topped the Karate medal standings with two gold, one silver and three bronze medals.
Boxing was a regional affair at these World Combat Games, featuring pugilists from Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The host country claimed the most medals overall (2 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze) but it was Team Bahrain that collected the most gold (3). Kuwait also impressed with seven total medals (2 gold, 1 silver, four bronze), while the UAE took home three medals and Qatar one.
SAMBO concluded its run at Riyadh 2023 with medals awarded in the Mixed Team Competition. Team Europe 1 went an undefeated 3-0 to claim gold, with Team Asia Oceania 2 taking silver and the Europe 2 and Pan American Teams settling for bronze.
SAMBO was the first of six sports at Riyadh 2023 to feature para athletes. On Day 1, Elder Luis Moreno Garcia of Venezuela made history as the first para athlete to win a World Combat Games gold medal when he defeated Republic of Moldova’s Oleg Nemtan in the final of the Men’s Blind Sport -79kg division.
In a nod to the inclusive nature of martial arts and combat sports, results from the para competitions will be added to a single, unified medals table at Riyadh 2023 along with those from their able-bodied compatriots.
In total, over 1,500 athletes from 120+ countries are competing in 16 martial arts and combat sports at Riyadh 2023. Next up on the competition calendar are Judo, Wrestling, Ju-Jitsu + Para Ju-Jitsu, Aikido + Para Aikido, Kickboxing, and Fencing, with Armwrestling + Para Armwrestling, Taekwondo, Savate + Para Savate, Muaythai + Para Muaythai, and Kendo to follow in the final days of the event that runs through 30 October.
For the full results and competition schedule of the Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games, click here.