Sergey Yeliseyev: ‘I hope that next year Sambo will become an Olympic sport’

In his interview with the ROC Information Service President of the Russian and European Sambo Federations described the major festival celebrated by Russian Sambo athletes, summed up the results of the Russian team’s performance at the World Championships, held in Sofia, and evaluated the perspectives of Sambo  development.

– Mr. Yeliseyev, how did the country celebrate All-Russian  Sambo day this year?

– First of all, a bit of history. On 16 November, 1938  Council of People’s Commissars issued an order to recognize self-defense without weapons as new sport in our country. For a very long time the birthday of Sambo has not been celebrated, but on the eve of its 70th  anniversary we understood that it shouldn’t continue this way! In 2008 a tournament was organized right on the Red Square, honorary guests were invited. Formerly renowned announcer of the Central Television, master of sports in Sambo Viktor Balashov commented on the competition. Tournament format turned out to be very successful — one weight category, the winner was determined by one throw. The fans were impressed with the show, the   festival was a  success! 

Next year the All-Russian Sambo Day was celebrated in 10 Russian cities, and by 2015 festival  geography reached a three-figure number. Last year 15,000 children from 120 cities took part in the competition! Now the All-Russian Sambo Day is a popular mass festival just like Russian Ski-Track or National Cross-Country Race. By the way, it is known abroad already. Now on 16 November children’s Sambo tournaments are held in France, Germany, Spain and other countries. In 2018 when Sambo will turn 80 we plan to hold a teleconference with live broadcasting from different parts of the world, where celebrations on the occasion of the International Sambo Day  would be held!

– What was this year like for the Russian Sambo Federation?

– It was a very eventful year. First of all, Sambo was included in the school programme as addititonal PE lesson. Schoolchildren get useful self-defense skills and learn how to fall correctly. If after this training someone wants to practice Sambo professionally, we would only be glad. Our sport is inexpensive. Sambo jacket costs 500 roubles and as for the mat, you buy it once and it lasts forever!

Secondly, Sambo is now included in the GTO (Ready for Labour and Defence) complex, which is very important since it will help us popularize our sport. In addition, our federation has signed a  quadruple agreement with the Russian Olympic Committee, the Inernational Sambo Federation and the Vladimir Region authoriries . In the framework of the Olympic Country project the ROC provides school sport clubs with equipment (in our case it is wrestling mats and other necessary equipment) and we provide PE teachers with methodological assistance.

In October at the meeting of the President’s Council on Sports I proposed to work out a strategy of Sambo development until 2030. I hope that next year Sambo will be officially recognized as Olympic sport, it will open new possibilities for the development of our sport. And of course, I would like to highlight the splendid performance of the Russian team at the World Championship in Sofia. Honestly speaking, we didn’t hope to receive so many medals. It will be very difficult to repeat this success at the next Championship that will be held in 2017 in Sochi at the Iceberg Olympic Sports Palace. But we will try to put up a good show both as organizers and as participants.

– Beach Sambo is developing actively now…
– We have recently returned from Vietnam, where V Asian Beach Games were held. I want to tell you that Beach Sambo was the second most attended sport. This is a very spectacular discipline. Athletes compete on the sand, and only one throw separates winner from loser. Such competitions are especially popular in southern countries – Greece and Cyprus.