Muaythai was a new addition at The World Games this year, and the athletes and crowds enjoyed every minute of it.
Being present at TWG2017 and coming just eight months after IOC recognition shows the huge popularity of this ancient sport. On Finals day the tickets were sold out with a variety of national flags hanging from railings and stands around the arena.
The VIP area was filled with sports personalities from muaythai and other sports. Thai minister for sport Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul flew to Wroclaw to support certainly muaythai, but also The World Games 2017 generally and promote the holding of SportAccord in Bangkok next year.
Two of the 11 gold medals on offer in muaythai went to Thailand, giving Minister Kobkarn a chance to stand on the podium.
Also in attendance was the Deputy Sport Minister of Poland and many presidents of Olympic Committees and international sports federations who came to support the athletes competing.
And in the week that Paris seems set for hosting Olympics 2024, where else would Denis Masseglia president of the French National Olympic Committee be found? He even presented a medal – one of the first to be awarded to muaythai on our debut at The World Games 2017.
Many especially enjoyed the use of ancient Thai traditions including live 4-piece orchestra at the side of the ring to accompany the bouts. All athletes also do a ritual dance called ‘Wai Khru’ at the start of the bout to show respect to their instructors. This allows them to mix the traditions of this martial art with the modern excitement of well-trained athletes in the ring.
The eight musicians playing the Sarama or ‘Pi Muay’ music played all day, keeping pace with the action in the ring. At the end of the bouts for gold, silver and also bronze the appreciative crowd gave the musicians a standing ovation as they began to pack up.
All of this added to the high-octane ring action made muaythai one of the most talked-about sports at the event. Muaythai athletes are already looking foward to 2021 when the next The World Games will be held in Birmingham, USA.