Competed in a world championship with almost no preparation
The multi-talented Sölvi Fannar Viðarsson has recently returned from a trip where, among other adventures, he was the first Icelandic man to compete in MAS (Siberian) wrestling, and where better to start than the world championship? Sölvi only had around twenty minutes to get himself acquainted with the sport before the meet but says, still he fared better than he had ever dared dream of.
The competition was held on November 29. and 30. in Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia (the Sakha Republic) in Siberia, Russian federation. Also competing on behalf of Iceland was strong-woman Þóra Þorsteinsdóttir but accompanying them were four times worlds strongest man, Magnús Ver Magnússon, the Yakutian Maria Shishigina-Pálsson and photographer Eva Björk Ægisdóttir.
A very technical sport
Sölvi says he was asked to find strong candidates for taking part in the competition on behalf of Iceland. "I contacted those I thought would do well but have to admit it's a little hard to evaluate this sport since I had never seen it before and I believe to be one of those sports where you actually have to try it yourself to appreciate it," he said.
Two times Iceland's strongest woman, Þóra Þorsteinsdóttir wrestles with her opponent from Kyrgyztan, with Maria Shishigina-Pálsson supporting her with Icelandic flag in hand, in the back. Photo: mbl.is/Eva Björk
"To find out that this is not at all a sport only for men made me very happy as we have several very strong female athletes from Iceland, on the contrary, there were top notch female athletes, in seven weight classes, as with the men, that were wrestling, pushing their bodies towards the extreme but to my surprise it was not necessarily the heaviest competitor in each weight category that won, but that just tells us how technical this sport really is."
"Whining gets you nowhere!"
Sölvi says he made the decision to compete only about half a month before the world championship. Since we had no equipment to practice MAS wrestling in Iceland, he says he did various exercises to prepare his body as well as he could. "When the very long trip to Yakutia was behind us we got around a 20 minute lesson from a very good trainer, as to how to master this very interesting sport. That is naturally not a lot of time, but whining gets you nowhere! You just have to go out there and do your best."
He says that it went much better than he had dared hope, yet says that there were mistakes made that affected his performance. "I had no idea that it was my turn and was still warming up and preparing.
Sölvi's opponent was Sergey Frolkin. "He won the bronze medal in the world championship in my weight class (-105 kg/231 lbs) but I still put up a good fight."
Sölvi says that the response was a good one, after (this) his first competition. "I was approached by officials from the competition and they had somehow heard that there had not been a lot of time, on my behalf, for preparation in this demanding sport and motivated me a lot by saying that I could place in the top three places if I were to practice the sport until the next competition.
Played the jaw harp for the president of the Sakha Republic
Sölvi encountered many adventures during his trip, but besides competing at the world championship he got to meet with the president of Yakutia, Egor Afanasyevich Borisov. "The meeting with Egor lasted for 70 minutes, much longer than intended, and we discussed many important subjects, some of them that will hopefully strengthen Yakutia's tourism as well as more firmly connect Iceland and the Sakha Republic in the future."
The jaw harp is the Yakutian national music instrument and Sölvi got to play it for the president, an experience that he said was not less stressful than competing in the world championship. "The president had been told I had just bought a jaw harp and he asked me to play it. Just as with the world championship I went with it and did my best, and most likely surprised myself the most by a decent performance."