France has seen the Grand Prix of Paris in sports and combat sambo for the 19th times. The correspondent of “Arguments of the Week” contacted the vice-president of the French Sambo Committee, Guillaume Alberti, to find out how the competitions were held, and also asked him about the Sambo development in the country.
— Guillaume, what do you think about the last tournament?
— This is the brightest sambo tournament in the country. The competitions gathered 133 sambo athletes from 32 clubs and 12 countries this year. This is the best result for the whole history of the competition. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet with the best sportsmen from other countries for French Sambo athletes. Tournament organization is not an easy process. We do advertising campaign, send invitations to foreign federations. I think that people are attracted not only by the prestige of the competitions themselves, but also by the opportunity to see France, see the sights. Every year more and more participants come and it is great. The FIAS recognition of played an important role, the federation assigned category “B” to the tournament. Winners now receive rating points to be qualified to other prestigious competitions, for example, to the European Games. It is possible that in the future the Grand Prix of Paris in Sambo will be assigned the category “A”.
— Which countries have become leaders this year?
— We were surprised by the team from Turkmenistan. Both in sports and combat sambo, they performed brilliantly, bringing a large team. Of course, Russian sambo wrestlers traditionally showed a beautiful fight. I will note the Kazakh sambo athletes Beyimbet Kanzhanov, who won the tournament for the second year in a row.
The French team could have got more medals, but I think the team was tired. The guys had a very small break after the European Championship, they did not have enough time to recover. But we do not despair; we look forward to better results next year. We have a lot of progress in the women’s team. Perhaps, this is due to the success of Laura Fournier in the international arena. She inspires other women by her example!
— Do sambo competitions often take place in France?
— Approximately 4 thousand people are engaged in Sambo and there are about 160 clubs in the country. Our federation is recognized by the French Ministry of Sport and the Olympic Committee. The Grand Prix of Paris is the largest tournament in the country, but we also hold small competitions in the regions: two tournaments in the north, one in the south. Each region then organizes a qualifying championship to determine, who will participate in a national tournament.
“Guillaume, how did your passion for self-defense without arms begin?”
— I discovered Sambo at the age of 19, I saw how Russian sambo wrestlers were training and was fully inspired by it. Then, I came to Russia, where I first practiced and understood the principles of this sport. I became the champion of France in sambo 10 years in a row, won many international medals, was the best sambo atjletes in the country, coached young guys. In 2006, I was elected a member of the French Sambo Committee, I became the coach of the national team. I like self-defense without weapons because of its variety, different techniques. Young people are attracted by the colorfulness of this sport, the opportunity to try their forces in combat and sports sambo.
— The Summer Olympics 2024 will be held in Paris. Do you think it will be possible to see Sambo at the competitions?
— I think that the whole Sambo family counts on it, this is our dream. We work on it. Laura Fournier, the ambassador of our sport, regularly attends various meetings and conducts negotiations on the recognition of self-defense without arms. We discuss the conditions that must be met in order to see our sport at the Olympic Games in Paris. The temporary recognition of the IOC definitely gives us all hope, we have become part of the Olympic family.