Masters are getting ready
to put on a show in Poreč

The World Masters SAMBO Championships start on October 21
in the Croatian city of Poreč
When they meet, they shake hands and embrace. Warm words, sincere smiles and a friendly atmosphere prevail just before the start of the 2016 World Masters SAMBO Championships in Poreč, Croatia. But tomorrow, the friends will go out on the SAMBO mats and fight for medals with no holds barred. As they themselves admit, the adrenaline goes off the scale at these tournaments ...
Accreditation of participants took place at the Hotel Laguna Molindrio, the official hotel for accommodation of all participants. Nearly 300 sambists from around the world arrived in Poreč for the main masters SAMBO competitions. They include both newcomers and those who have almost lost count of the the number of times they've competed in these tournaments. One of these athletes is Albertas Kasheta of Lithuania, who talked about his experience of competing in masters championships in an interview with the FIAS website.
Albertas Kasheta: "As the years passed, I realized that SAMBO was the most versatile martial art in terms of technique"
"This is probably my 10th masters championship. I nearly always succeed - I win either a gold medal or some other award. I only failed to make it to the podium once due to an injury in one of the preliminary fights," Kasheta said.

"As a child, my first sport was judo. Then SAMBO came into my life, and I started practicing both marital arts. Now I'm training and competing in jiu-jitsu and grappling - nearly all types of martial arts. But I still prefer SAMBO. As the years passed, I realized that SAMBO was the most versatile martial art in terms of technique. SAMBO has a wide choice of technical actions and possibilities for combining them with each other. I think SAMBO is more interesting than other martial arts, even for spectators who don't know much about wrestling. The contest takes place both standing and on the ground, and it happens really fast," Kasheta said.
He also talked about SAMBO's practical versatility.

"SAMBO techniques have come in handy more than once in life. There were times when I had to protect someone and help the weak, who couldn't stand up for themselves. I think every tournament participant feels the same way," Albertas says. I once witnessed some drunk guy attacking a woman. He probably wanted to steal her purse, or had some other motives. I had to intervene, and you know, I made a really good throw on the street. I think if referees had judged it, they would have given me a win by fall, because I stayed standing. The woman, of course, very grateful to me, and we turned the man over to the police. That's just one example of how incredibly useful SAMBO is in life."

Returning to the tournament, the Lithuanian athlete said with a smile:

"At the masters championships, you can meet friends you fought with years ago. We come not only to compete, but also to get together, exchange news and even relax. These tournaments are held mainly in resort towns of different countries, so we have a chance to relax and combine business with pleasure."
The picturesque scenery of Poreč
The scenery of Poreč is truly picturesque and puts you in a resort mood. But mid-October isn't the warmest time in Croatia, so sunbathing and swimming are usually over by then. However, that didn't stop some sambists. We saw swimmers who were enjoying themselves splashing about in the sea. "The water's great!" They cheered on their fellow sambists wrapped up in warm clothes, who absolutely refused to believe them, and just asked how it was possible to swim at that temperature. "We grew up on the Volga," the sambists answered, praising the famous Russian River. Photos of the swimming sambists are posted in our small gallery. Enjoy!
Still, the most important thing on the athletes' minds during these days in Poreč is the tournament. Russian sambist Ramazan Ramazanov will be participating in the masters championships for the third time, and is finally set to win a gold medal. He never made it to the top previously.
Ramazan Ramazanov: "When I compete at a masters tournament, it takes me right back to my youth"
"I'm from Makhachkala, Dagestan. I'm a Master of Sports of the USSR in judo, a three-time world wushu sanda champion, a two-time world boxing champion, and a two-time world jiu-jitsu and MMA champion. Altogether, I'm a nine-time world champion in various martial arts," says Ramazanov. "I won the belt in mixed martial arts at the Fight Nights tournaments in Moscow and Khabarovsk. At 45, I was the oldest athlete at these competitions, and I beat a young soldier. I'll be competing at the World Masters SAMBO Championships for the third time. At the first tournament, I wasn't able to win the qualifying fight for the finals and eventually finished third. At the next championship, I lost in the finals in the 82 kg weight category. Now I've decided to compete in a heavier weight category - up to 90 kg - so I don't throw my weight around.
"When you compete at a masters tournament, it takes you right back to your youth. You go out on the mat, and right away there's a pleasant sense of nostalgia. So these competitions are very important and necessary for us. It's also a good example for young people. Young athletes see that even at this age you can go out and give a good performance," Ramazanov said.

Ramazanov said he trained hard for the championship in Croatia and is counting on winning a gold medal. He already managed to win at a similar grappling tournament a few weeks ago.

"Earlier I worked as a coach, but now I don't have enough time for this. I'm the director of a youth sports school in Makhachkala. I supervise 57 coaches who train children in various martial arts, including SAMBO. Our school is called a 'talent pool', because our athletes perform at a high level in a lot of prestigious competitions, including MMA tournaments," Ramazanov said.
The Ukrainian national team arrived at the masters tournament with a large contingent
By tradition, the Russian national team at the World Masters Championships has had the largest number of participants. However, the Ukrainian team isn't far behind it. According to the organizers, about 80 sambists from this country came to the tournament.
At least two of them are brothers. Literally. In an interview with the FIAS website, Vladimir and Sergey Lapshin talked about the strength of opponents, the importance of training and an example for youth.
The Lapshin brothers: "We train every day, because we know we won't achieve anything without it"
Sergey: Volodya was the first to start SAMBO as a child. Then after a year, I followed his example. We were involved in SAMBO and competed until the early 1990s, but then the Soviet Union collapsed, and it was very difficult to keep doing SAMBO. Funding stopped, and we had to go into business to make money. So we left SAMBO for about 10 years."

Vladimir: "We were able to return to SAMBO in the early 2000s , but this time as coaches and officials."

Sergey: "This is my fourth masters championship, and Volodya's first."

Vladimir: "Somehow, I always lucked out just before the start because of injuries to my leg, arm or back. That's why I've always put off a trip to the tournament. Thank God, this year everything has been going right."

Sergey: "I also missed last year's tournament, but before that I managed to win. To be honest, there are no weak opponents; everyone fights as if it's the last time. We have to work and train hard to get results. Of course, seeing friends and talking with them is important. But every time you come, you go into the hall and you get an adrenaline rush. You understand that you're competing under your country's flag and do everything possible to win.
Sergey: Each of our victories is an example for youth. Unfortunately, there are so many temptations that have a negative impact on young people. SAMBO is a prestigious sport, and now it's getting a second wind in Ukraine. I'm also aware that the International SAMBO Federation has applied to the IOC for recognition of SAMBO as an Olympic sport. I'm the chairman of the city's Judo and SAMBO Federation, and we're trying to help youth sports schools. I'm really happy when I go to classes and see gyms full of children working out. And as business owners, we try to promote the development of our favorite sport.

Vladimir: "Not everyone can be a champion, but the fact that these guys are in here speaks volumes. It means they have something they want in life and can achieve it. Our goal at the initial stage is to help them, so that they come to love SAMBO and get off to a good start.

Sergey: We train for competitions all year, like when we were young. We train every day, because we know we won't achieve anything without it. At this tournament, everyone is strong, and without training you shouldn't be here."
Participants and referees were in a good mood at the weigh-in
The day before the start of the competition traditionally ends with a weigh-in of participants and a draw. The athletes and referees were in a good mood just before the championship. The friendly jokes and conversation continued the whole time. Then tomorrow, October 21, the uncompromising fights begin for medals at the 2016 World Masters SAMBO Championships. Get the full details and results of the competitions on the FIAS website: www.sambo-fias.org
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