I proudly placed Australia on the podium on two separate occasions at IFMA Muaythai World Championships.
I represented the nation in Bangkok, Thailand (2015) and Jonkoping, Sweden (2016). At both events I was knocked out of the tournament in the semi-final bout. However, it was also by the competitor who went on to win the IFMA Gold medal at each event.
I had no idea what to expect when I qualified for my first IFMA tournament. Excitement combined with nerves filled my bones. There are a number of happenings crammed into the two week competition period. Here is some insight to my experience once landing in the hosting country.
The lobby is filled with blissful energy as competitors arrive in preparation for the IFMA tournament. Each country walks in their pack, confidently flaunting their national team uniform. You can’t help but size up the competition and guess who is in your weight division. On the first day, most countries keep to themselves, as you complete the medicals, the first weigh-in, and all eagerly await the draw. Who will you face in the first round?
During the first week of competition every participant has the desire to be the IFMA gold medallist. In 2016 the Swedish national team and the Australian national team were in alliance. We would cheer loudly for each other except, for obvious reasons, when Australia faced Sweden.
As week two rolls around, there are fewer competitors left in the tournament, the tension slowly dissipates and this is the week where friendships begin to develop. For me, my friendships began in the sauna. I ran into the same girls each time, which have now gone on to being lifelong friends.
The Swedish competitor in my division was Patricia Axling. As sweat dripped from our skin, we discussed how the tournament would end. Sweden and Australia were on opposite ends of the draw. The plan was for us to meet in the final, the IFMA gold medal bout. However I lost in the semi-final bout.
Personally, the best part of an IFMA tournament is having the opportunity to be exposed to so much talent.
You are immersed into an unexplainable atmosphere. You meet many people, from all around the world, who have a shared passion. Muay Thai breaks through any language barrier. Obviously, wearing the Australian colours goes without saying to be one of the best aspects.
However, I found the worst part of the IFMA tournament is the waiting game. For the draw, fight date schedule, and the late night notifications. You best get weight cutting, when you receive the message at 11pm that you are fighting the next day. Not to mention the last minute changes to the fight schedule. One of our juniors was only given a few hours’ notice about a schedule change. You need to be ready, and in fight mode at all times while you are still in the running for that gold medal.
Another challenge is the multiple weigh-ins. You are to weigh-in on the morning of each day that you are scheduled to fight. I weighed in 4 times in eight days. Depending on the hosting country, factors such as the weather might make weight cuts more challenging.
Overall, it is an unforgettable experience that I would do again. It’s an opportunity to gauge your abilities, further develop yourself and even exceed your expectations.