Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Heading into the 11th and final day of the Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games, there was a three-horse race between Ukraine, Kazakhstan and hosts Saudi Arabia to see who would finish as top medal-getter at the event.
When all was said and done, it was Ukraine that earned the honours, topping the table with 53 medals in total (21 gold, 17 silver, and 15 bronze). Team Saudi Arabia did the home nation proud by coming in second with 51 medals (12 gold, 20 silver, and 19 bronze), while Kazakhstan placed third with 48 medals (12 gold, 13 silver, and 23 bronze).
The final day of the international multisport event featured athletes competing in Muaythai, Taekwondo, Savate and Kendo at the King Saud University Arena.
With no fewer than 14 gold medals up for grabs, the victory ceremonies for Muaythai came fast and furious on Day 11.
A testament to the cosmopolitan nature of the sport, 11 of the 14 gold medals were won by athletes from different countries.
The Saudis left it until the final two bouts to move into second overall in the World Combat Games medal table, needing wins by Inad Baowaydhan in the men’s -75kg and Hattan Alsaif in the women’s -45kg.
Team Australia also managed two first-place finishes, with Bryony Soden winning the women’s -57kg division and Zoe Elizabeth Putorak taking the women’s -63.5kg. Independent Neutral Athletes Konstantin Shakhtarin and Gadzhi Medzhidov, meanwhile, won the men’s -71kg and -91kg classes, respectively.
Elsewhere on the women’s side, Nirawan Tangchio of Thailand won the -48kg; Monika Chochlikova of Slovakia took the -51kg; Martyna Kierczynska of Poland claimed gold in the -54kg; and Kubra Kocakus on Türkiye conquered all in the -60kg.
The men’s Muaythai champions of Riyadh 2023 were equally as diverse. Mohamed Touizi of the United Arab Emirates won the -57kg division; Masuod Abdolmaleki of the Islamic Republic of Iran claimed the -63.5kg title; Hamza Rachid of Morocco snatched the -67kg from an injured Anueng Khatthamarasri of Thailand; while Inad Baowaydhan of Saudi Arabia earned the -75kg crown. Mustafa Raad Shakir Al-Tekreeti of Iraq was victorious in the -81kg.
The three days of Taekwondo competition concluded with men’s and women’s individual Poomsae and Mixed Kyorugi Team action.
In the men’s individual, Darius Venerable of the Philippines collected gold, with South Korea’s Namhun Lee taking silver, and Zong Han Darren Yap of Singapore capturing the bronze.
In the women’s individual, Yeaeun Cha of South Korea was awarded a total score of 9.280 to earn gold over Maria Alejandra Higueros Luna of Guatemala in second (9.040) and Chinese Taipei’s Hsin-Ya Chen in third (8.800).
In the rapid-fire Mixed Kyorugi Team action, surprise package Morocco overwhelmed Mexico in the semifinals to book a gold-medal clash with favourites South Korea. The underdogs were ultimately no match for their Asian rivals, however, and had to settle for second place on the podium following a 75-53 defeat. Türkiye placed third.
France flexed its muscles on the final day of Savate action, bagging six gold medals and two silver.
Frenchwoman Rim Ridane got things started with a 5-0 blanking of Serbia’s Kristina Dzolic in the final of the women’s Assaut -60kg. Compatriot Andrea Campoverde downed Cameroon’s Haoua Holy Halilou 5-0 for another tricolour victory.
The only setbacks for the French came in the women’s Combat -52kg and -60kg categories, where Meghane Amouri and Fanny Serena, respectively, had to settle for silver behind winners Aleksandra Dimitrova of Bulgaria and Karmela Makelja of Croatia.
The French domination continued on the men’s side, however, with Johan Ghassiri blanking Sovi Yves Alain Attougbre of Côte d’Ivoire 5-0 in the Assaut -70kg final, Elias Kanfouah winning the Combat -60kg, and Amine Feddal downing Brian Francois Fils of Mauritius in the final of the Combat -70kg. France’s Christopher Brugiroux picked up the final French gold medal in the Combat -85kg division.
Mixed Team Canne de Combat gold was presented to the trio of Valentin/Kim/Dardour, with Rohleder/West/Horstmeyer collecting silver. The team of Pilot/Bhantooa/Lee claimed bronze.
With all the medals in Kendo being awarded a day earlier, kendōka on Day 11 took part solely in demonstrations and team exhibitions.
Kendo Kata got things started in the afternoon, followed by the mixed team exhibition and matches in the men’s and women’s Masters categories.
About the World Combat Games:
The World Combat Games are an international multi-sport event featuring the best athletes in combat sports and martial arts. They were established to celebrate the athletes and values of these sports in one place, and to expose them to an international audience. The World Combat Games concept aims for a compact and manageable event that offers cities an opportunity for focused international promotion, engagement with local communities (in particular young people), and the advancement of public health and wellness agendas through inspiring initiatives encouraging participation in combat sports.
In total, over 1,500 athletes from 120+ countries competed in 16 martial arts and combat sports at Riyadh 2023. For more information about these Games, head to the Riyadh 2023 official website.