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USA Pankration team places second at FILA World Championships of Non-Olympic Styles

The U.S, does participate in Pankration. A small but scrappy delegation, representing USA Pankration, traveled north to London, Ontario to represent the Stars and Stripes Wednesday, in one of two non-Olympic styles retained by FILA in their recent Extraordinary Congress. The other is Beach Wrestling.

The U.S. Pankration fighters placed second in the World Championship event, ahead of the host team, Canada. Romania won the team title by a sizable margin.

Pankration takes its name from an Ancient Greek event in wrestling’s heritage. The sport combines the elements of striking, throwing and submission. Combatants wear a Gi, along with shinguards and four-ounce gloves. Strikes to the head are extremely limited and rare.

The U.S. effort was led by Jeremy Bibelhauser, of Indiana, at 77kg (169.5lbs). Bibelhauser won three of his four fights, yet ended up in a perfect storm of classification woes to come away with a bronze medal.

Rules for the non-Olympic styles call for a weight class of five or fewer athletes to compete in a Nordic, or round-robin, bracket. With five in the bracket at 77kg, Bibelhauser fought four times Wednesday, the equivalent of advancing through a sixteen man, straight-line bracket.

However, both the eventual gold (Romania) and silver (Belgium) medalists fought only three times. In winning his second bout by technical superiority, Bibelhauser injured his Italian opponent. The Italian did not appear for any subsequent matches. He had a bye in the first round.

Both the athletes of Romania and Belgium, along with the athlete from France accepted forfeits from the Italian. Bibelhauser defeated the eventual champion from Romania, but lost to the silver medalist from Belgium in a tightly contested bout. Romania defeated Belgium, creating a triangle.

When all was said and done, Bibelhauser was the only fighter in the bracket with a record of 3 – 1. In his technical superiority over Italy, he had earned four classification points. The Romanian and Belgian both earned five classification points for Italian forfeits.

After nearly an hour delay, FILA representatives were bound by rule to uphold placement of the top three athletes that seemingly defied common sense. Bibelhauser smiled and accepted his bronze medal with dignity.

“It’s not anyone’s fault”, shrugged a disappointed Bibelhauser. “It’s just a quirk in the rules. I am new to Pankration and just enjoyed being able to get so many fights in a day.”

Volunteer Team-Leader Laura Hill, of Joliet, Illinois, was proud of her small groups efforts. “I was happy to be able to pull all this together, sort of at the last minute”, Hill commented. “It’s nice to see Americans get an opportunity, early, in one of FILA’s developing styles”.

Names and results for the other American athletes were unavailable at this writing. Thursday’s World Championship competition will feature Amateur Mixed Martial Arts.

The U.S. Grappling delegation arrived in London Wednesday and will spend Thursday preparing for their Gi Championship on Friday.
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