World Sambo Championship 2023 Day 1 Live blog © Sambo Federation of Armenia
World Sambo Championship 2023 Day 1 Live blog © Sambo Federation of Armenia

World Sambo Championships 2023 started in Armenia's capital Yerevan. In the Sport Complex after Karen Demirchyan worlds strongest sportsmen will decide who is the best in 21 weigh categories. 

Total of almost 600 sportsmen from 71 countries have arrived to Yerevan. After 3 years of absence, Ukraine returns to the World Sambo Championships, instead of it Azerbaidjan ant Turkie didn't arrive due to political reasons. As usual, Russia is the country who is likely to win most of gold medals, though Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and of course home favourite Armenia will try to challenge them in each weight category. Russian, Belarussian and French athletes compete as independent athletes under the flag of FIAS (Fédération Internationale de SAMBO). The first two due to political reasons, and France because of problems with local federation.

Insidethegames is in Yerevan to provide live updates and most important news from the World Sambo Championship. In the day one of the competitions sambists will compete for medals in 7 weight categories. In sport sambo men will compete in 58kg and 64kg, women in 50, 54, and 59kg weight categories. In combat Sambo men will battle in 79 and 98 kg weight categories.

In men's sport sambo 58kg weight category independent athlete from Russia Sayan Khertek is the returning world champion and the main contender for the gold medal. 2017 World champion and home crowd favourite Tigran Kirakosyan and David Hovsepyan from refugees team are set to challenge Khertek for the gold medal. Ranking leader Borislav Yanakov from Bulgaria is returning bronze medalist from 2022 and will try to improve his success in 2023.

In 64kg weight category there are no returning medalists from 2022 World Championships. Therefore, Vladimir Leontev from Russia and Zhandos Beisenbayev from Kazakhstan are the two main contenders for the gold medal, and they can meet already in quarterfinals.

In women's 50kg category Maria Amyulina Guedez from refugees team will try to repeat last year's success and take the gold medal. She can face her last year's final's rival Anfisa Kapayeva, an athlete from Belarus already in semifinals. Luisaigna Campos from Venezuela is the returning bronze medalist from 2022. Russia has send to Yerevan Iulia Molchanova who will try to improve her teammate's, 2022 bronze medalist Yekaterina Khasanova's last year's result.

Alena Kupava from Belarus has come to Yerevan to defend her world champion's title in 54kg weight category from 2022. Guldana Almukhanbetova from Kazakhstan, Elmira Kahramanova from Russia will be her main rivals there, but only one of that 3 athletes can reach finals, as the draw has put them in the same net.

In women's 59 kg weight category Svetlana Uvarova from Russia is the returning gold medalist and the main contender for gold in Yerevan. 

In 98 weight category of combat sambo there are no returning medalists from previous year, therefore Abdul Dzavatkhanov is the main contender for the victory, though home crowd will cheer two Armenian athletes Arman Avanesyan from Armenia and Davit Arakelyan from USA.