Russia have dominated the opening day of the World Sambo Championships here in Sofia by winning six of the nine medals available.
The tournament, sponsored by Rosneft, officially began today with action across nine weight categories in men's and women's sport sambo, and men's combat sambo.
Velimurad Alkhasov was the first to secure gold for the Russians with a win in the combat men's 57 kilogram final against Ukraine’s Andrii Kucherenko, as Togtokhbayar Nyamkhuu of Mongolia and Bulgaria’s Marko Kosev, to the delight of the home fans, came away with the bronze medals.
Immediately after Islam Makhachov doubled Russia’s gold medal tally courtesy of a win over Bulgaria’s Valentin Benishev in the final of the 74kg category.
The bronze medals were claimed by Illia Khadkevich of Belarus and Uzbekistan’s Istam Kudratov.
A clean sweep of men’s combat golds soon followed as Russia’s Mikhail Mokhnatkin prevailed in the 100kg division.
Mokhnatkin overcame Charymyrat Annagumanov of Turkmenistan in the final while both Kamen Georgiev of Bulgaria and Islomjon Azimov of Uzbekistan took the bronzes.
Nikita Kletskov continued Russian dominance in the men’s sport sambo as he was victorious in the 68kg division following a final win over Emil Hasanov of Azerbaijan.
Bulgaria’s Martin Ivanov secured one of the bronze medals, buoyed by the home crowd, while the second was won by Sarbon Ernazarov of Uzbekistan.
Mongolia’s Maralerdene Chimeddorj managed to halt the Russian dominance momentarily as he defeated Igor Beglerov in the final of the 52kg competition while the bronze medals were claimed by Tigran Kirakosyan of Armenia and Khasan Dzomil from Tajikistan.
Another Russian could only manage silver in the 90kg event as Georgia's Paata Ghviniashvili defeated Sergey Ryabov to take gold.
Komronshoh Ustopiriyon of Tajikistan secured one of the bronze medals while Turkmenistan's Tejen Tejenov won the other.
Russian dominance, however, was restored in the three women’s competitions today.
Elena Bondareva claimed the first of two Russian golds as she defeated Leila Abbasava of Belarus in the women’s 48kg final while Tatiana Osoianu of Macedonia and Asya Lalazaryan of Armenia were forced to settle for the two bronzes.
The second Russian woman to claim gold on day one was Yana Kostenko after she got the better of Ukraine’s Anastasiya Shevchenko in the 60kg division.
Ana Repida of Macedonia joined Belarus' Katsiaryna Prakapenka in securing bronze medals.
The final women’s division, the 72kg category, was won by Nataliya Smal of Ukraine after she overcame Belarus’ Volha Namazava in the final.
Ekaterina Tokareva secured some Russian presence in the medals as she secured one bronze while Nino Odzelashvili of Georgia won the second.
Before this evening’s finals got underway there was a short Opening Ceremony in which a group of traditional Bulgarian dancers performed and flags of every nation competing were paraded.
International Sambo Federation (FIAS) President Vasily Shestakov and Rumen Stoilov, the President of the Bulgarian Sambo Federation, were among the speakers.
"It is our great pleasure to have the World Championships here in Sofia in the same year as the 60th anniversary of the Bulgarian Sambo Federation," said Shestakov.
"On behalf of the FIAS I would like to welcome everyone involved here."
Shestakov then brought proceedings to a close as he presented a gift to Stoilov to mark his federation’s anniversary.
A further nine sets of medals will be handed out tomorrow with the women’s 52kg, 64kg and 80kg categories taking centre stage along with the men’s 57kg, 74kg and 100kg, and combat men’s 62kg, 82kg and over 100kg.