SPORTS

Beach Wrestling Worlds end with Greece on top

By George Georgakopoulos

The 2014 World Beach Wrestling Championship ended up in a triumph for the hosts as Greece swept the team trophies in cadet, junior and senior men and women at Katerini, central Macedonia, in the attendance of the head of the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) Nenad Lavovic, as well as of hundreds of fans at the picturesque beach of Paralia last weekend.

Sunday witnessed the culmination of the championship with the seniors competing under the Greek sun and at the foot of Mount Olympus.

After triumphing in the cadets’ and juniors’ categories on Friday and Saturday, Greece also dominated the women’s events, securing two gold medals and leaving the third to Estonia.

Greek Maria Prevolaraki wrestled her way to gold in the 60-kilogram category, with Kazakh Miruyert Dynbayeva second and Norwegian Rikke Juel Bugge third. It was an all-Greek podium at the 70 kilos with Athina Giannousa first, Irini Gavranidou second and Virginia Tsaknaki third.

Estonia celebrated Epp Mae’s gold in the 70+ kg category, while Norwegian Iselin Moen Solheim was second and Greek Katerina Pitsiava third. In the points table Greece gathered 22, ahead of Norway with 13 and Estonia with eight.

Romania took two gold medals in the men’s events, as Tomi Hinoveanu won the 70kg category ahead of home favorite Apostolos Taskoudis and Russian Vasili Struckov, while Vasile Vlad Caras earned gold in the +90kg category beating Greek Theofilos Ampatzis in the final. Ike Anthony Okoli from the USA was third.

Russia also landed two golds in the men’s finals: First Leonid Spiridonov topped the 80 kg after beating Hungarian Nagy Mhaly. They left Sweden’s Karl Oskar Fredriksson in third. Then Yury Sarostin ruled the 90kg category, with Greeks Dimitris Papadopoulos and Ilias Boukis in second and third respectively.

In the men’s points classification Greece was first with 26, Russia followed with 23 and Romania came in third with 16.

In total, across all senior, junior and cadet categories, Greece collected nine golds, nine silvers and nine bronzes. But besides the sporting triumph, the championship was also an organizational triumph for the hosts.

“We are very happy with the hosting of the championship here at Katerini, as we had always expected. Holding the event here will go a long way towards helping the sport grow in Greece,” Lalovic, the Serb president of FILA, told Kathimerini.

“After all, this is a sport that is even closer to ancient Greek wrestling which took place on sand,” he added, stressing that this was the very beach that ancient Greek wrestlers competed on the sand under the gaze of the Greek gods on Mount Olympus.

Foreign squads and delegates praised the hosting effort, with some saying this was the best ever Beach Wrestling Worlds. Deputy Education Minister Costas Koukodimos, who was also present at the event, went as far as proposing to FILA the permanent hosting of the World Beach Wrestling Championships in Greece, rotating between a number of the country’s beaches.

“Our guests were very satisfied. We received congratulations from Mr Lalovic and he said he will entrust Greece with more international tournaments,” said Costas Thanos, the head of the Hellenic Wrestling Federation.

The championship was dedicated to the memory of Olympian wrestler Panayiotis Pikilidis who died a few weeks ago at the age of 49 years.

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