My soul has yearned to write this article, so I decided to share with you my unexpected experience of "sports tourism". Sit back, it is going to be a long story. ()
It all started great: after a five-year absence from international armwrestling competitions I unexpectedly put up a good fight at the World Championships 2012 in Brazil, having taken the 5th place in the heavyweight category (24 competitors participated in the tournament). Between 2001 and 2006 I achieved many successes at world championships, and even at the World Cup in 2003 I managed to win an award. What I want to say is that armwrestling is like a drug, if you’ve tried it once, it’s very hard to give it up. I didn’t stop completely, I coached athletes and organized competitions, but deep down I wanted to fight. Having received a new impetus to training, to work and an air of self-confidence, with fanatical zeal, I started looking for the next tournament to take part in. And then something interesting appeared on the horizon: while surfing the net I came across an advertisement of the International Armwrestling Championships Malaysia 2012, which were to be held on 8-11 December in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. In addition to that two days prior to the tournament, from 6 to 7 December, there was to take place a technical seminar for referees. On the official website it was stated that all the events were held under the auspices of the WAF (World Armwrestling Federation), which was confirmed by certificates issued by the International Federation of Armwrestling and photographs showing the management of Amiranz Armsport Academy (AAA) with the WAF’s General Secretary - Willy Denemoster of Belgian origin. All these indicated that AAA was the official representative of WAF in Malaysia. It seemed very encouraging, but then I remembered lots of negative comments about the tournaments in Malaysia. In fact, digging in the archives of "Iron World", I found an article authored by Vasily Kuznetsov (http://www.ironworld.ru/news/16314/), according to which in 2007 Malaysia was to hold a tournament «Malaysia Open» with a prize fund of about 100 thousand dollars, but the competition was cancelled 8 days before its scheduled opening. This incident provoked negative comments worldwide. Having learned the worrying information, I immediately addressed a question to the organizers of the new tournament. I managed to contact the Vice-President of Amiranz Armsport Academy - Ayu Emelda Othman. In correspondence with her, I was told that the AAA was a new armwrestling federation of Malaysia and it should not be identified with the previous tournament. I was assured that a new tournament would be held at a high level.
So I made up my mind – I decided to go. A few factors influenced my decision. First of all, I’ve never been in Malaysia, I love travelling, plus I wanted to compete in a big tournament very much. Of course the prize also played a role: 1st place - $ 1500, 2nd place - 1200 $, 3rd place - $ 800. And since I also write for the magazine "Iron World", I immediately thought that I would find some interesting materials for an article.
Travelling only on your own is boring, so I began to get together a team of the best armwrestlers. Denis Tsyplenkov was the first person I called. Dan said he had just got back from the U.S., the flight was very long and he didn’t like it. Besides, he was to begin his preparation for A1 – a Russian Open tournament. Also Andrey Pushkar and Sergey Tokarev refused to go explaining that they had a heavy workload. In fact, I think the guys were not interested in the prize, as most of it covered only the cost of air travel. It’s understandable, of course. Personally, I wasn’t disappointed, because it meant that I could gain more for myself. “His greed was his undoing" – you’ll say, and you’d be right, but we’ll get to that later on .... It turned out that the guys had made the right choice.
Before I bought the tickets for myself and a friend who decided to go there with me to participate in the referee seminar, we had officially been registered as participants of the competition on the website. But seven days prior to departure, I contacted the vice president of Amiranz Armsport Academy - Ayu Emelda Othman again to make sure that the event would take place and the value of the prizes hadn’t changed. The answer was positive. Although I sent messages to various representatives of AAA, whose addresses were indicated on the official website, only Ayu Emelda Othman would answer. Since we couldn’t wait any longer, we bought the tickets. We trusted the organizers and were certain that they would meet us at the airport and take to the hotel. I could see the pictures of the cup and the tournament paraphernalia with logos on the Internet, so deep down I was almost convinced that everything was going to be alright. I was more worried if our flight would take place as planned on December 4, since Kiev and Moscow were covered with snow.
And then came the day - December 4.