Turkey’s entrant in the Wai Kru contest

After a tough week of competition, the athletes in finals had a rest day with fun activities planned for everyone.

The day started with a Youth Conference – you can read about that here and then continued with more relaxed activities.

In the afternoon the hotel where the athletes stayed was turned into a ‘Muay Talay’ centre with music and games. The word ‘talay’ in Thai means sea and ‘muay’ means boxing so it was the perfect combination for a tropical afternoon.

Inflatable gloves were used in ‘boxing matches’ for the youngest athletes taking place in the pool under the vigilant eye of senior coaches. Others took part in races. And inevitably there were water-bomb-dive competitions with quite a few red tummies leaving the pool.

Upstairs in the open area in the hotel next to a parrot aviary, other children danced and shared cultural games.

That evening, the athletes travelled in coaches to the ‘Muay Thai Live’ stadium near the Chao Praya river. There they were treated to a private showing by this exciting dance troupe incorporating ancient muaythai techniques with a modern light-show.

One of Team Kazakhstan entering the Wai Kru contest

The finals of the IFMA Youth Wai Kru contest took place on this beautiful stage, with a live band playing the music. This ancient ritual-dance is done before every bout by muaythai athletes young and old, but while a simple version is often done in the ring; during this contest everyone does the most complex and artistic version they can.

Fun with Muay Talay

The youth competed in age brackets from Under-10, 10 – 12 and 13-upwards, separated into boys and girls. The rituals were adjudicated by the judges attached to the MuayThai Live stadium, and results announced during the IFMA Youth Gala night the following day.

A buffet-dinner on board a river cruiseboat followed; a healthy mix of local traditional food and western-style dining. The boat sailed past beautiful temples like Wat Arun which are lit up at night so the intricate designs can be seen. .

Teams joined together to take photos and videos, and of course to sing and dance when the stage opened up – including an impromptu ‘dance-off’ between Turkey, Malaysia and Palestine.

The aim of the day was so give these young athletes good memories to take away from this tournament and to understand while winning medals is a key part of the tournament, that they also have time to make friends and build on their passion for muaythai.