The audience at the Macau Forum were treated to a spectacular display of muaythai on the final day of competition at the Asian Championships. And their cheering lifted not just one but two Macau athletes all the way to gold among the 15 countries competing for the final medals.
The day opened with Iraq’s Mustafa Al Tekreeti taking on Chinese athlete Yongkang Zhang. A very close bout to start with, Iraq taking the win on just 29: 28 points. Mustafa worked very well on the inside, scoring cleanly with knees and elbows to ratchet up the points with Yongkang working more with his kicks and teep-pushkicks.
Six of the finals were in the women’s divisions, with Macau claiming one gold here. Tam Si Long took on Thailand’s Thanawan Thongduang in a tough battle centring around knees and inside work. Tam took a poins win to the delight of the crowd.
Australia’s Yolanda Schmidt, representing Oceania for the first time at an Asian Championships, took gold at 57kg against young Kazakh athlete Albina Kulbizekova. This was Albina’s first final, but surely not the last as she put up a strong defence but Yolanda firing in rapid hand combinations following with knees was not to be denied.
Singapore took their first ever gold at elite level when Lena Tan Yi Hui took gold against India’s Shiv Vaishali. Having had some tough earlier bouts, Lena was determined to get the win here and comfortably took gold.
Thailand’s Somruethai Siripathum (also known as Fah Chiangrai) took gold against Malay athlete Mor Atasha Mohd Nor, a straight points win for her.
Sze Ki Wong won gold for Hong Kong also in a straightforward win against Chinese Taipei’s Kai Hsuan Cheng.
China took two wins in the men’s division to add to their silver from the first bout. Can Luo defeated Afghanistan’s Sohrab Salahshur on points, working on the outside to score and stay out of danger. And in a fast-paced three-rounder team-mate Dongwang Guo took gold against Sarawut Saengdao at 71kg. Dongwang played a clever game, moving into score and retreating before Sarawut could wrap him up in the clinch (as he did successfully in earlier bouts to other opponents).
Just before that at 67kgs Nurtaza Jumakhanov (Kazakhstan) defeated Murtaza Shamal from Afghanistan, working with knees and pushing hard in the clinch to take the points. His team-mate Yevgeniy Zaitsev lost out to Thailand’s Norapat Khundam at 63.5kg, with Norapat taking the win with powerful lower-body kicks, clocking up for a strong points win.
At 86kgs Iranian athlete Kavan Azadi took gold on just one point against the UAE’s Ilyass Hbibali . This was a great bout, really technical from both athletes and of course the crowd always loves the heavyweights – no doubting this is a contact sport when they’re in the ring.
The organisers saved both Macau bouts for the end of the day. At 54kg Tak Chuen Suen has already shocked the world when he defeated The World Games champion Yelaman Sayassatov in the semi-final. So Arthorn Nontakod (Thailand) knew he had to bring his best game. It went down to the final round with Macau fighting off the back-foot, using clever tactics leaving it up to Artorn to chase the win – but Tak Cheun took it on 29:38 after three exciting rounds.
After 17 bouts, Thailand claimed the Best Team with the highest number of gold, silver and bronze. But overall medals went to over 20 of the 32 national teams competing, showing that there is no sure thing anymore in muaythai – anyone can win.
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