Ukrainian national team won 53 medals at the World Combat Games in Saudi Arabia

Maria ShevchukNews
As a result of the competition, our athletes return home with a huge achievement of 53 medals

The 3rd ever World Combat Games have ended in the capital of Saudi Arabia. For 11 intense days of competition, the Ukrainian team of 57 athletes fought against rivals from over 120 countries.

Our athletes competed in 9 disciplines: arm wrestling, savate, jiu-jitsu, karate, WAKO kickboxing, Muay Thai, sambo, sumo, wushu, pankration, Alish belt wrestling, and grappling. And they managed to not only win medals but became the strongest team in the tournament!

Ilia Shevliak, President of the Sports Committee of Ukraine, noted that we have once again proved that Ukrainian athletes are the strongest in the world, and our team has become the best team in the largest international martial arts competition, the World Martial Arts Games! Each award is extremely important to us, and each of them is dedicated to the boys and girls of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They are our main motivation! By the way, the team also included servicemen who are defending our country. It was important for us not just to perform but to remind the world once again about the war in our country and that we need support in the joint fight against the aggressor.

On the first day of the competition, we managed to start counting the awards. The first winner of our team was karate fighter Elina Selemeneva. She defeated all her rivals in the group stage, semifinals and finals, winning her debut gold for Ukraine on the tatami of the King Saud University sports complex.

On the same day, we witnessed the Ukrainian final. Our sumo wrestlers in the 65 kg weight category fought for the title of World Martial Arts Games champion in the decisive match: Olena Nikitinska and Alina Duzhenko.

And how proud we felt when our sumo wrestlers climbed all the steps of the podium! Bronze, silver, and gold went to our team in the absolute women's weight category. The Ukrainian anthem was sung by three of our athletes at once: Svitlana Yaremka, Yelyzaveta Morenko and Ivanna Berezovska.

Ivanna dedicated her bronze medal to Ukraine, "My medals are always for Ukraine, for its glorification. I never forget that I am a Ukrainian. First of all, I want to say a big thank you to our Armed Forces, and our soldiers who defend our independence. I hope that our medals are a small impetus to a great victory!"

Our team also has multi-medalists: Roman Kiziuk made a double effort to the team victory. First, he became a champion in grappling, and then in pankration.

"I can't describe the feeling of two victories! I want to thank everyone who helped me, all the coaches and, of course, my parents, who always support me and invest a lot in me. Competing in two disciplines is already a habit for me, I always try to compete in all possible disciplines," the two-time World Martial Arts Games champion said.

As a result of the competition, our athletes are returning home with a huge achievement of 53 medals, including 21 gold, 17 silver and 15 bronze. For the Ukrainian team, this is a historic success and the first medal victory in the history of the competition! Ukraine won 23 medals at the first World Martial Arts Games and 34 at the second. On the eve of the final competition day, the tournament hosts and the Kazakh national team tried to impose a fight at least in terms of the total number of awards on our team, but the Ukrainians held on to win. Saudi Arabia finished second in the medal standings with 51 medals: 12 gold, 20 silver and 15 bronze.

Ukrainian national team won 53 medals at the World Combat Games in Saudi Arabia

The most successful sports in Riyadh for Ukrainians were sumo and wrestling. Our sumo wrestlers won 13 awards and became the champions of this tournament, beating even the Japanese, the ancestors of this sport. Our wrestlers added 15 medals to the national team's total medal tally in grappling, pankration and Alysh belt wrestling. Armwrestling brought Ukraine a lot of medals, 14, which allowed the Ukrainians to become vice-champions of the competition.

Our team included those who took a break from military service during the competition and dedicated their victories at the Games to their fellow soldiers. In particular, multiple world champion in arm wrestling Lilia Zanko and multiple world champion in Muay Thai Oleh Pryimachov.

"It is a pleasure to be here among the strongest athletes in the world. It is a great honor for me. I want to send my greetings to my colleagues who are on the ground and performing combat missions. I want you all to stay alive. Inessa, I am very, very grateful to you for taking me and my comrade out of the enemy's encirclement. Thank you for life! I would also like to thank everyone who supported me, who believed in me and prepared me for this competition. I am very grateful to the entire Ukrainian team and the rehabilitators who put me back on my feet. I am grateful to everyone who participated in this because it was very difficult. Unfortunately, I didn't have any training. It was all based on old yeast, stocks, as they say. And also on my willpower and character. I dedicate my victory to the people of Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes! We will definitely win!" said Lilia Zanko, bronze medalist of the World Martial Arts Games.

"I can't say I'm 100 percent satisfied. My impressions are a bit spoiled because, due to all these circumstances, I was not able to show everything I was preparing for, directly to the gold medal. For the last 7-8 years, I had only gold medals, and today I got a silver even though I didn't lose a single fight. But this is sport, it happens. For me, it was important to defeat an opponent from the aggressor country. I did it, so I proved to myself once again that we are a strong, fighting nation, that victory will be ours! I believe that one of my main goals in this tournament has been fulfilled. And the fact that I failed to win gold is just the way it is, this is sport, this is life. I dedicate this medal to the guys who motivate and support me. They are now in very difficult combat conditions. My thoughts are with them. Unfortunately, there are guys in our unit who were killed... May they rest in peace! Only their will to win, the way they stand in defense of our country, motivated me to go and win this victory," commented Oleh Pryimachov, silver medalist of the World Combat Games.

The World Combat Games 2023 is a bright page in the sporting history of Ukraine, which will continue in 2025. That's when the next competitions are to take place, and their hosts will be announced in early 2024.

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