World muaythai championships IFMA 2017 was held from May 3 to May 13 in Minsk, Belarus.
IFMA 2017 World Championships made history as the first tournament since Muay Thai received a three-year provision recognition from the International Olympic Committee last December. Moreover, many of the 75 countries which took part in the event, have reportedly sent larger teams than in the past due to increased government funding on the back of this recognition. In addition, out of 132 registered national federations in IFMA, to date 78 have already received recognition from their Olympic Committee, making these countries’ teams even stronger.
Almost 700 participants battled out at IFMA 2017 in Minsk with the event steamed live on Youtube. The overall team trophy counted from the Female and Elite male divisions was won by Team Belarus. Thailand placed second and Russia third. Topping up the bill, this tournament was also a qualifier for The World Games in Wroclaw this July.
“This was by far the strongest field of athletes which IFMA has seen, with most countries only sending top fighters who qualified through national championships,” IFMA general secretary Stephan Fox told fightmag.com.au. “Gold medal winners in 11 divisions will go on now to compete at The World Games in Poland, at the end of July.”
“We are sure that the city of Wroclaw has never seen anything like this before. The best muaythai athletes in the world who have qualified from two years of competition under one roof for three days.”
The results of the final day of IFMA 2017 can be found on the official website of the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur. The portal also contains the Male-B Medal list as well as the Female-A report.
Australia was represented by a squad of five athletes. The team comprised four male competitors Luke Thompson, Dion Beattie, Billy Coulter and Andrew Tung, as well as a female fighter Rebecca Rooney. The national coach was Corey Impelmans. Australians brought home one bronze with Luke Thompson in the 91 kg competitive male division.
Also, Australian referee Abby Matthews, refereed right up to the finals on May 12, when only the most experienced and steady referees worked on that day. Matthews was in charge of the 45 kg women gold medal bout.
“Australia sent a strong team. They met tough opposition but showed they belong on the world stage without doubt,” said Fox.
“IFMA 2017 a great campaign for a young Australian Team. The distance from home certainly impacted our ability to bring a full contingent of A & B class athletes,” said Impelmans.
“The team that competed came with an attitude of one step at a time, but no backward steps. The draw was not favorable to us but never the less we came to fight.”
“After the first round we had our 67 kg and 91 kg still in the tournament and again a tough draw. Bowing out in the second round put our team out, but we fought up until the second last day of the tournament.”
Impelmans also said that the the team really enjoyed being a part of the event. As well, getting to see up close quality fighters like Dmitry Valent of Belarus, Suppachai “Superbon” Meunsang of Thailand and Nili Block of Israel.
“Overall the event was excellent an experience of a lifetime for us. A real look at the muaythai life. In 2018 will see a much larger Australian Team ready to fight,” he said in conclusion.
The next year’s IFMA world muaythai championships is scheduled in Mexico.