Despite the many difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in the world, the past 2020 has become a landmark year for the Blind SAMBO. This was stated by Roman Novikov – a member of the FIAS Commission for Athletes with Disabilities, head of the project “Overcoming” – International Development of SAMBO for the Blind”. He said that research was completed on the features of maintaining a balance of sambists with various visual impairments, which was launched in 2019 with the support of the International SAMBO Federation and the Presidential Grants Fund. On the basis of the results obtained, the International SAMBO Classification Rules of SAMBO for the Blind and Visually Impaired were developed. Roman Novikov spoke about this and many other things in his interview for the FIAS website at the end of the year.
– Roman, what was the main result of the year for blind and visually impaired sambists?
– I consider it a great achievement to have the necessary regulatory framework for holding official international SAMBO competitions among the blind and visually impaired. But the main thing is that the International SAMBO Rules for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the International SAMBO Classification Rules for the Blind and Visually Impaired were examined by the FIAS Technical Commission, and on October 4, 2020, the FIAS Executive Committee approved these documents. This means that now, as soon as the epidemiological situation stabilizes, the long-awaited event for all blind and visually impaired sambists will become a reality – the first World Championships could be held.
In addition, our team carried out a large and unique work, as a result of which a collection of materials was compiled containing recommendations for coaches planning to start training with blind and visually impaired sambists. Also, in cooperation with the Rey-sport company, in accordance with the wishes of the athletes, specialized helmets for blind sambists who will compete in the SVI-1 class were finalized.
– How did the situation with the coronavirus affect your work?
– Our team, of course, had to reorganize taking into account the new realities in the world: we decided to replace face-to-face coaching seminars with video materials from experienced SAMBO coaches who train blind and visually impaired sambists, to transfer discussions to online mode. But here it is important to note that such replacements have obvious advantages: video materials can be repeatedly reviewed, supplemented with new ones, discussion of important issues of SAMBO for the Blind development in specially created groups is not limited to the time of seminars and conferences.
Of course, there are also serious losses. Within the framework of the project “Overcoming” – International Development of SAMBO for the Blind” with the active support of FIAS, we planned to hold the International SAMBO Tournament for the Blind and Visually Impaired “Overcoming”. We received preliminary applications from blind and visually impaired sambists from 10 countries: Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine. Unfortunately, the situation with COVID-19 in the past year did not allow us to hold an event with so many participants, but everything is ahead.
– So do you have plans to hold an international tournament in the near future?
– Now we are discussing the issue of holding our first International SAMBO for the Blind competition as part of a major international SAMBO event, where the best sambists traditionally compete without health limitations. In my opinion, this is a very important step, since in fact there is no reason to separate blind and visually impaired sambists from representatives of Sports and Combat SAMBO – after all, we are all engaged in the same sport. The bout in each discipline is carried out on a separate mat in accordance with the rules for this discipline, and this is quite enough.
– Serious work has been done. How many people help you in your work?
– I have a team of like-minded people with whom we are moving forward. But besides the team, we are helped by caring people, great professionals of the SAMBO world. I would like to thank the FIAS President Vasily Shestakov and the President of the All-Russian and European SAMBO Federations Sergei Eliseev for the comprehensive assistance. I would also like to express my gratitude to the 1st Vice-President of the All-Russian Sambo Federation Sergei Baydakov. At the dawn of SAMBO for the Blind, Sergey Lvovich provided serious support, which allowed our team to develop dynamically. I cannot fail to note the high professionalism and efficiency in resolving current issues of the employees of FIAS and the All-Russian SAMBO Federation. Returning to my team, I want to say a big thank you to people who believed in the possibility of developing this type of martial arts for the blind and visually impaired and went with me all the stages of the formation and development of SAMBO for our category of sportsmen both in difficulties and in joy. Without their help and persistence, the concept of “SAMBO for the Blind” would probably not exist now.
– Can you tell us how it all began?
– SAMBO for the blind and visually impaired began its development in 2010. The first tournament in this discipline took place in December 2011 in Moscow, Russia. Then the “Overcoming” tournament was held annually until 2014 inclusive, and every year there were more participants. In 2015, the Ministry of Sports of Russia officially recognized the SAMBO discipline for the blind and visually impaired, and since 2017, the Russian SAMBO Championships for the blind and visually impaired have been held.
Also, in 2017, the development of SAMBO for blind and visually impaired youth began, the first tournament was held in the Republic of Tatarstan in the Laishevsky boarding school for blind and visually impaired students. Since 2018, blind and visually impaired youths have been taking part in youth martial arts games in SAMBO discipline.
In 2019, at the FIAS Congress, I made a presentation to the international SAMBO community for the first time. FIAS President Vasily Shestakov supported my speech and said that the International SAMBO Federation will develop SAMBO for the blind and visually impaired. In November 2019, the FIAS demonstration group of SAMBO for the blind and visually impaired made a brilliant presentation of this discipline at the main FIAS tournament – the World SAMBO Championships in the Republic of Korea.