World Beach Games Blog 2019: Chapter 6 - Good people, continued

By Rusty Davidson | Oct. 11, 2019, 3:35 p.m. (ET)
October 16: I just noticed that the dates on my entries have been off since Saturday. Today is really October 16th and I’m in the Dallas / Fort Worth airport… almost home.

The stories, leftover from yesterday, centered around volunteers and non-wrestling people. Along the way, though, wrestling people keep making their way to the front of the line. What’s new about that?

The five athletes that represented us in this inaugural event were 100% the right people. Watching all five interact with competitors, spectators, volunteers, just confirmed what we all enjoy bragging about. Wrestling seems to be a magnet for the world’s best people.

USA Wrestling is lucky to have leaders like North Carolina’s Ed Duncan. A very efficient and driven organizer, Ed exudes a gentle, soft-spoken humor. As the Chair of our Associated Styles Committee and a member of the UWW Beach Commission, Ed keeps things moving forward. As NC’s State Chair, he has shown us all how to “Kill ‘em with kindness”.

Yesterday’s story wraps around two people outside wrestling. One is a young volunteer, helping to organize transportation for the Games. That part about, “For the Games” plays into the story.

I got into yesterday, not having gotten any souvenirs for grandchildren, principal or school secretary. I knew I had to get to Souq Waqif, Doha’s traditional bazaar. I met with two assistant instructors, for referees, until 10:00am. Lunch, at our hotel didn’t start until 12:30 and we had to be on the bus, for weigh ins, by 1:00.

If that’s not enough, most of the shops in the souq close from noon to 4:00. Early afternoon heat can be so dangerous, most things close for a few hours.

The souq was a half hour away, with traffic. If I was going to get this done, I had to push it. When I got to the lobby, I was looking to order a taxi. The young transportation guy intercepted me and, learning my time constraint, cooked up a plan.

He ordered up one of the Games cars… really nice rides ! I listened, as he explained to the driver that I needed to visit Qatar’s Olympic Committee Headquarters… Wink – Wink. It turns out that the drop off circle for that building is across the street from the entrance to Souq Waqif.

There’s absolutely no reason this young man needed to help me like this. But, he did… and I think we ought to notice those ‘Little Things’ people do, when they don’t have to.

Shopping accomplished, I had to hurry back to lunch. Crossing the drop-off circle, I jumped into the cab at the front of the line. The driver, like many, was a young guy from Pakistan. I enjoyed sharing the story of Inam Muhammad’s championship at 90kg. I could see, and feel, the kid being proud of his countryman.

As we entered the hotel parking lot, I dug into my dwindling supply of Qatari Riyal. I had used all my small bills to haggle (brutally and successfully) over prices for stuffed camels! All I had were two fifty notes. I told the driver, “I’m sorry, my friend, but all I have is a fifty”. You know that I was apologizing for the large bill (50 QAR is about 12.50 USD).
The young guy took me to mean that fifty Riyal was all I had left in the world. Without batting an eye, he said, “That’s OK sir. If you don’t have any money, I will pay for your ride”. Are you kidding me?!

Immigrant drivers in Qatar make next to nothing. Yet, this young guy was willing to pull my 13 QAR ($3.50) fare out of his pocket. Please… have some confidence in me… I did leave him the entire 50.

As I said, there are a lot of good people out there. I don’t want to get spoiled, simply because so many of them happen to be wrestlers. My goal, this weekend, is to stay aware and not miss a chance to do something good for someone.

Ciao

October 15 - Chapter 5 - Good people

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the world is full of good people.

One of them got on the podium, today, earning a Bronze Medal at this First World Beach Games. Shauna Kemp became the lone U.S. wrestler to come home with a medal, doing so at 60kg.

Obviously, Shauna wrestled well, but all our athletes did. This tournament brought the top ten at each weight, globally, together for the first time. There were probably half of the 80 total entries that I either didn’t know, or hadn’t seen this year.

Alongside Shauna, Donell Bradley (70+kg) and Diante Cooper (90+kg) competed tonight. Donell hit a deadly head throw to win one of her pool matches. Diante wrestled some monsters and showed, clearly, that he belongs among them.

I’ll ask Gary to dig out and publish the results, unless you would rather visit the website. I’ll also say, “Thanks” to Ed, for providing all the photos.

I have some more ‘Good People’ stories to share, but they’re gonna have to wait. It’s midnight and we just got to the hotel. I have to rinse off the sand and sweat, then pack. My bus, to the airport, is at 5:00am. I’m going to have a better shot if I grab at least a couple of hours’ sleep.

Ciao

Photo of the U.S. delegation at the World Beach Games: Team Leader/Coach Ed Duncan, Kristal Betanzo (50 kg), Shauna Isbell-Kemp (60 kg), Donell Bradley (Over 70 kg), Ashley Sword (70 kg), Diante Cooper (Over 90 kg), Rusty Davidson (referee).

October 14 - This is a big deal

Today seemed like something special for the sport of Wrestling. Yes! I have my bias. That said, I sincerly believe we grew, both deeper and wider, on this First Day of the First Wrestling Event in the First World Beach Games.

I know Gary already got you results for Kristal and Ashley, last night (Monday). Just in case, you can find results, quickly and easily, at https://www.awbgqatar.com/

Ed is doing a great job, getting you photos. I simply did not have a minute, to get any shots of the competition. We have two circles going, full time, and eight referees (nine, if you count me). I must keep the referee assignments rolling, making sure to avoid national conflicts (can’t have a ref working their own athlete). It moves at a brisk pace.

Tonight (Tuesday), we conclude the event. Our other three Americans, Diante, Donell, Shauna, go.

The late afternoon start was great. We even had a few clouds roll through, which cooled things off. I walked, knee-deep, along the shore of the Persian Gulf. It was like bath water!

The competition was Awesome! It’s the best we’ve seen. We have strong representation from the African Continent. Pan-America did well, with two champions, Brazil and Colombia.

The highlight of the night was the last match, Final at men’s 90kg. These are two monsters, Georgia’s Dato Marsagishvili and Inam Muhammad of Pakistan.

Muhammad is a two-time returning World Champion. Dato is his only loss, having beaten Inam (on a hot call), in Rio last May. The two met in their pool, last night. Muhammad winning 1-1 in the last few seconds.

The semis cross pool, so the two met again, in the final. With the score tied, 2-2 (Inam by last point), seven seconds left, Dato reached for his brutal Inside Trip. Muhammad stepped, locked, and PLANTED Marsagishvili. Final Score, 5-2.

Qatar has thousands of Pakistani immigrants… and I think they were all there! What’s big, for wrestling, is to have a guy from a lesser known wrestling nation step up and be a hero. Inam is a Good Hero, too… this kid is a class act. By the way, so is Dato.

Besides having United World Wrestling President and IOC member, Nenad Lalovic, in the center of the front row, we also had Olympic Champion Nadia Comaneci. If you’re not old enough to know that name, Google it! “The first Perfect Ten” is not meant to be a description of the woman (although Nadia is quite lovely). She put Gymnastics, Romania, and the Olympic Ideals on the radar in 1976.

I’ll get you some quick thoughts, before I leave the hotel at 4:30 tomorrow morning. Then, I can touch base, from Dallas, Wednesday afternoon.

Ciao

Photo above: The crowd at the Beach Wrestling venue at the World Beach Games was large and active. Photo by Ed Duncan.

October 12 - The draw

I know information from here is hard to come by. It seems like the ANOC and Local Statistical Systems refuse to sync with the UWW / Athena system, that our guys are using to input data.

Here’s what I know of today’s Draw. Most of the eight weight classes are filled with the 10 best in the world. A couple have had late withdrawals, hence only include nine. Each weight is split, odds and evens, into Two Round Robin Pools. Most include five, the others four.

Results of the Round Robin Pools will send each pool’s Second against the other pool’s first and vice versa, in Semis. Then, winner versus winner for Gold and Silver, loser versus loser for a singled Bronze.

Women first. At 50kg, Kristal Betanzo is third in her pool, along with Priceputu – Romania, Zarwia – Liberia, Cabrera, Argentina, and Selishika, Bulgaria. Kristal has Argentina first.

At 60kg, Shauna Kemp is first in her pool, along with Zhydechevska – Romania, Holder – Barbados, Kessler, Austria, and Rondet, France. Shauna has Romania first.

At 70kg, Ashley Sword Buster is second in her pool, along with Bereshna – Ukraine, LeCour – France, Georieva – Bulgaria, and Renteria – Colombia. Ashley has Ukraine first.

At 70+kg, Donnell Bradley is first in her pool , along with Pasichnyk – Ukraine, Nemeth – Hungary, Pitsiava, Greece, and Lutgate, American Samoa, Donnell has Ukraine first.

Our only male entry, at 90+kg, Diante Cooper is fifth in his pool, along with Albino – Brazil, Kargiotakis – Greece, Yilman – Turkey, and Rahmani, Islaminc Republic of Iran. Diante will have the bye, first round, then Brazil.

All of this is tentative, based on my scribbling (and Ed’s photos) of the live draw. Tomorrow (Monday), we have Women – 50kg and 70kg, and Men – 70kg and 90kg. Tuesday, we have Men – 60kg and 90+kg, along with Women – 60kg and 70+kg.

Preliminary rounds, through semi-finals start, each day, at 4:30pm, local time. Medal matches start at 8:30pm. Doha is seven hours ahead of New York.

Note that all of the competitions, here, start late afternoon and continue well into the night. This is to protect athletes, and others, from Doha’s extreme heat and high humidity, during the day.

There you go. Yes, I have peripheral stories to tell. They’re gonna have to wait until I can bank one full night’s sleep.

Ciao

Photo of U.S. Beach Wrestlers during a night practice by Ed Duncan.

October 12 - Chapter 2

Good news. Bad news. The Opening Ceremonies, for this inaugural Beach Games, were spectacular. I didn’t get to see ‘em.

I was one of about a thousand that were turned away, because there simply wasn’t another seat. The stadium is said to seat 60,000. If that’s true, then it must jave been quite a show.

I saw tens, if not hundreds of credentialed athletes, coaches, others that were also turned away. I was actually with two of the Media Specialists, for Beach Wrestling, from Austria. They had their credential and were still turned away.

I mention the credential, because I did not have mine. It seems one of the leaders of our group picked mine up for me. I’m sure he meant it as a favor.

The airport and customs were easy and quick. There was a car waiting for me, so I got to the hotel before 6:00pm. Ceremonies started at 7:30. The organization guy, who met me downstairs, said, “No problem”. He got me checked in, encouraged me to rinse off quickly, and come back downstairs.

The bus, for the ceremonies had left before I got to the hotel. The guy had a car waiting for me. Whatever it said, in the windshield, let us drive right up to the arena. There were still a ton of people waiting in line. I felt lucky to find the Austrian guys. No luck, though. One of the security guards really tried to ‘Talk us in”. Even that didn’t work.

So, sleep it is. That’s gonna’ turn out to be a good thing, anyway. I have to teach my Referees’ Clinic tomorrow morning, at nine. I spotted a Starbucks, about three blocks away. I’ll be able to put the finishing touches on my PowerPoint, there.

Congrats to all our Veteran Athletes, for their success in Tbilisi. Congrats, too, to our guys at the Continental Cup. Go USA !

Ciao

Editor's Note: The mascot of the Beach World Games, Dolphy the Dolphin, poses in the Beach Wrestling logo for the event.

October 11 - Chapter 1

This one is worth waiting for! It’s another ‘First Ever', the Inaugural World Beach Games. Worth? One hundred percent. Wait? Yes, we have.

The event was originally scheduled for late 2017, in San Diego. Lots of unforeseen circumstances bumped it back two years. Still in San Diego, the Games were rescheduled for this October. Nope!

San Diego gave up their hosting privilege in May, four months ago. There are a lot of variables that intervened.

Doha, Qatar just finished hosting the World Track and Field Championship. They’re gearing up to host the 2022 World Cup. Now they're hosting the World Beach Games, and we are on our way to Doha.

The USA delegation actually left yesterday (Thursday). They will go through a heavy dose of processing and live in the Athlete Village. The extra day will give them a head start on the ‘lag’. Doha is seven hours ahead of New York and ten ahead of Los Angeles.

I am 24 hours behind them. As a Delegate for United World Wrestling, I am labeled as ‘Neutral’. That doesn’t mean I can’t look out for Americans’ best interests. It simply means I have to do it from a distance. Delegates do not have credentials for the Village. We stay in a hotel.

The Games will feature 16 disciplines in 14 sports. It’s safe to say that competition on the beach has made an impact on Olympic sport over the last two decades. Wrestling is just one of what may be viewed as traditionally indoor sports that has taken up residence in the sand. 

There have been several sub-continental Beach Games the last few years. Greece just finished hosting the Mediterranean Beach Games in late August. Asia, South America and Africa will add Continental Games over the next few years.

I’ll get you some more background and introduce our delegation sometime Saturday. Right now, I’ve got to get on this plane to Dallas. If all goes well, I’ll connect there and fly directly into Doha. It’s a fourteen and a half hour flight.  

I arrive in Doha around 4:30 pm. With a nine hour time difference from New Mexico, I should be able to get WiFi and touch base with Gary. I know Team Leader Ed Duncan is updating the Facebook site constantly. Stay tuned.